Memory Keepers Fellowship 2024: Projects

Published March 27, 2024
Updated April 2, 2024

Jean Chaudhuri Collection and Phoenix Indian School

This blog post is about the projects Janine Nelson and Myacedes Miller have chosen for their monthly blog posts under the Memory Keepers Fellowship.

Photo of Archivist Vina Begay (Diné) going through some archival materials with Myacedes Miller (Diné)

Janine Nelson (Diné): Phoenix Indian Boarding School

Yá'át'ééh (Hello) again, the subject that I will be focusing on during my mentorship at ASU is the Indigenous people’s experiences and possible unfortunate events that had taken place at the Phoenix Indian Boarding School during its active time of 1891 through 1935.

The trauma and horrible experiences that Indigenous people had to undergo during their boarding school days is not something that I’m unfamiliar with. I have family members who’ve shared similar memories of those days while attending other schools, but I haven’t heard of the events that took place at this specific boarding school. Some people may have heard of the traumatic events and the survivors of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School as it was regarded as one of the top schools for Indigenous youths to attend in order to learn the ways of navigating within society at the time. While going through the early documents of the Phoenix Indian Boarding School, I’ve come across the school being regarded as the “Carlisle of the West”. With the knowledge of how student’s experiences were at the actual Carlisle Indian Boarding School, it made me curious as to whether the students who were attending the Phoenix location had also suffered just as much. Searching for actual accounts and words of the Indigenous people themselves will be challenging mainly because their voices weren’t considered as important to those around them.

So far, I’ve been working with scanned copies of documents and letters that were exchanged between Superintendents of the school, people in the government, and even influential people within the city. There are also books that pertain to the Phoenix Indian Boarding School that I’ve yet to go through and I’m hoping to further look at newsletters that were published by the students contained on microfiche.

According to definitions found on the internet, a microfiche is a flat piece of film containing microphotographs of the pages of a newspaper, catalog, or other document. It is an outdated method of preservation of old documents that is still used and viewed in libraries today. A microfiche can only be viewed with the help of a microfiche machine because it is able to magnify the image so you may be able to read the contents.

-Written by Janine Nelson

Headshot of Janine Nelson wearing black rimmed glasses
Headshot of Janine Nelson wearing black rimmed glasses.

Phoenix Indian School Collection, MS FM MSS 40


Myacedes Miller (Diné): Jean Chaudhuri Collection

On my first day of in-person mentoring, Vina had mentioned the Jean Chaudhuri collection. I immediately felt inspired by the work she had done for the Native community. I was intrigued because a lot of the work she had done was local in the Tucson and Phoenix area. I felt drawn to her collection because of the work she had done with non-profit organizations. She is doing similar work I plan to do. Looking through the jeans collection I was able to see the lead ups to projects that she was working on and seeing them go from ideas to reality. Through her archives I got a glimpse of who she was as a person and what she cared about. 

Jean is a Muscogee (Creek) woman from Oklahoma. Jean had many roles of being a wife, mother, activist, and businesswoman. She fought for the Phoenix Indian School land. She was a Chairperson for the Native American Heritage Preservation Coalition and the Executive Director of the Traditional Indian Alliance. She fought for the first Indian Health Service in the greater Tucson area. She later started her own Non-profits and halfway homes. From a business student perspective, it is amazing to see Jean in this role. She took her education and gave back to her community. Many native students nowadays have that same goal in mind. 

My biggest takeaways and most memorable parts from the Jeans collection is being able to see Jean's determination and self-confidence in her work. When she was fighting for the Phoenix Indian School’s land she had herself and 30 people write 1,500 letters to congress. They only had a budget of $300 to buy stamps and supplies. In stories like this I saw her strength. Later in the collection I was able to see her proposal for the Indian health Clinic. I really enjoyed seeing her ideas translate to reality. 

-Written by Mya Miller

Photo of Myacedes Miller sitting on a hill composed of tan sand with footprints around her. She is sitting in front of a sunset wearing white shoes and jean shorts. The sky is blue with clouds blotting an orange sun low on the horizon.
Photo of Myacedes Miller sitting on a hill composed of tan sand with footprints around her. She is sitting in front of a sunset wearing white shoes and jean shorts. The sky is blue with clouds blotting an orange sun low on the horizon.

Jean Chaudhuri collection on Arizona Archives Online.

The Memory Keepers Fellowship program is a project partnered between ASU’s Community Driven Archive Initiative and the Labriola Center. The fellowship is geared for BIPOC students at local community colleges and for them to explore the field of Library Information Science early in their college career. The first cohort of recruits will focus primarily on learning the fundamentals of archiving and learning how archiving can be tailored to fit the cultural customs of their local communities.

Ah’sha Notah (Diné) is a program coordinator for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded project “Centering BIPOC Memory Keepers and Advancing Equity and Inclusion” fellowship program. She recruited a group of seven students from different backgrounds and walks of life to take on the opportunity of being in the fellowship. Five of whom are indigenous and some will be working with Labriola. From the first cohort is Janine Nelson (Diné).