Indigenous Culture Week emphasizes unification

April 2, 2021

There’s something new this year for Indigenous Culture Week.

It’s the word “Indigenous.” Sacramento Knoxx portrait Interdisciplinary artist Sacramento Knoxx will lead a live performance and an interactive workshop as part of Indigenous Culture Week at ASU. Download Full Image

Previously known as Native American Culture Week, and before that, American Indian Culture Week, the new name can be accredited to the advocacy and hard work of current Indigenous students. 

“We’re unpacking this term ‘Indigenous’ and sharing it with our communities,” said Lourdes Pereira (Hia-Ced O’odham and Yoeme), an undergraduate student double-majoring in American Indian studies and justice studies, who works at the ASU Library’s Labriola National American Indian Data Center. “It’s not a new term, but it’s still something people are learning how to use. It’s an international term.”

Indigenous Culture Week events are happening April 2–11 across all campuses at Arizona State University, located on the ancestral homeland of the O’odham and Piipaash people.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous people and promote Indigenous voices.

Voices like Sacramento Knoxx, an interdisciplinary artist from Detroit, whose “versatile background with different forms of music allows him to blend traditional and contemporary styles creating dynamic storytelling experiences with live music performances, dancing and video projections that take audiences on a participatory journey and a creative experience.”

Knoxx will be leading two events for Indigenous Culture Week. Sponsored by the Labriola Center, the RED INK Indigenous Initiative and the Department of English, Knoxx’s interactive workshop on April 6 will focus on creating music and lyrics from patterns and structures of sound. He will present a virtual music performance on April 7. 

Other events include a pride run, a virtual walk-through experience of the American Indian Boarding School exhibition at the Heard Museum, a talk on unresolved trauma and a screening of the film “Sisters Rising,” the story of six Indigenous women fighting for their personal and tribal sovereignty.

Pereira says the push for the term “Indigenous” came out of a desire to communicate greater inclusion and a more deeply rooted connection to the land and to each other — an idea threaded throughout the Indigenous Culture Week Library Guide, created by Pereira and fellow student workers at the Labriola Center, including undergraduate students Elizabeth Quiroga (Tohono ‘O’odham), majoring in social justice and human rights with a minor in American Indian studies, and Mia Johnson (Navajo), majoring in applied computing.

The library guide is aimed at informing Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike about all the resources available to them at ASU, and it offers a historical look at the culture week celebration. 

It is also an attempt at examining the language surrounding Indigenous people – an idea conveyed visually through a gallery of promotional posters of past culture weeks.

“We need to think about our words more carefully and what we’re advocating for,” said Quiroga, who identifies with the term “Indigenous” rather than “Native American.”

“I feel like part of the issue in America is being focused on our own issues, individualizing all of our problems, but the issues we face here in America as Indigenous people, recognized or unrecognized, these are the issues being faced across the world,” Quiroga said.

Johnson offers an important reminder that Indigenous issues are not just historical — they are current.

“We’re not extinct. In classes, I’ve heard instructors talk about us as if we’re not around anymore,” Johnson said. “The O’odham and the Navajo – this is not just a historical story. These are contemporary issues — legal issues and social issues.”

To learn more about Indigenous Culture Week, visit the ASU students’ library guide and check out the week’s calendar of events.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU engineering professor named Beavers-Ames Chair in Heavy Construction

April 2, 2021

Samuel Ariaratnam, professor and chair of the construction engineering program in the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University, has been named the Beavers-Ames Chair in Heavy Construction after years of involvement with the organization.

The Beavers-Ames Chair in Heavy Construction was established at ASU to bolster construction management and engineering education for undergraduate students and to promote the heavy construction industry. Sam Ariaratnam Samuel Ariaratnam was named the Beavers-Ames Chair in Heavy Construction at ASU, a professorship designed to encourage students to pursue careers in heavy construction and connect them with professionals in the heavy construction industry. Photo by Tim Trumble Download Full Image

“Sam’s passion, energy and enthusiasm for all that we do in our enterprise is unparalleled. He is the first to step up to help advance an initiative or champion a cause,” said Ram Pendyala, the director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the six schools in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “He always makes time to engage, collaborate and brainstorm new and exciting ideas. Even in the midst of the pandemic replete with Zoom meetings and virtual engagements, Sam has consistently walked the halls of College Avenue Commons to knock on doors, connect in person and check on the welfare of others.”

The position honors Bill Ames and Wink Ames, who passed away in late 2020, and was established by trustees of the Beavers Charitable Trust in recognition of the Ames family’s generations of support of the construction industry and construction education in California and Arizona.

“I want to recognize Wink Ames, as he was a wonderful man and he was such an inspiration to our program,” Ariaratnam said. “Since I arrived here on faculty in 2001, he was always a big supporter of what we do at ASU and in the construction programs, and I'm honored to be the Beavers-Ames Chair of Heavy Construction to be able to continue some of the great things that he did.”

The Beavers’ investment in the professorship is with the goal of encouraging students to pursue careers in the heavy construction industry and help them foster connections with professionals in the industry.

“In today's environment, the typical hiring for permanent employment of graduates involves summer internships that provide both the student and a company time to determine if they are a good fit,” said Dave Woods, the executive director of Beavers. “We hope that partnering with Dr. A will create opportunities for students to find internships and permanent jobs with heavy civil contractors, ideally Beavers member companies.”

A career of contributions to trenchless technology

Ariaratnam’s contributions to the heavy construction industry are extensive. He has served on the North American Society for Trenchless Technology board of directors from 2001 to 2006 and was the chairman of the International Society for Trenchless Technology from 2010 to 2013 and chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers Pipelines Division executive committee from 2017 to 2018.

Throughout his career, Ariaratnam has earned five patents, written eight books and published more than 300 technical papers in his research area, which focuses on trenchless construction methods, horizontal directional drilling and trenchless pipe replacement. Ariaratnam was elected to the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2018 and the National Academy of Construction in 2019.

“Trenchless technology looks at underground facilities and the installation of new underground utilities or the repair of existing ones,” Ariaratnam said. “This could be telecommunications systems, water, sewer, electrical, gas, oil and petroleum pipelines. Trenchless technology is a way of minimizing disruption to surface activities.”

Open-cut construction, which is the traditional and most popular method for installing and repairing underground utilities, can be compared to open heart surgery — a procedure with a large incision and long recovery time.

By contrast, trenchless technology is similar to an angioplasty, which involves equipment such as probes and cameras to make repairs and installations with minimal surface disruptions and minimal downtime. With trenchless technology, the system is almost immediately functional after installations and repairs are made.

“These types of infrastructures are very critical for day-to-day life and the betterment of society,” Ariaratnam said. “Being this chair will help me continue to get the message out about the importance of the heavy construction industry.

Serving the next generation of students

Ariaratnam plans to use this new endowed chair to promote heavy infrastructure and heavy construction education in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

“I'm going to help build on and enhance the curriculum,” Ariaratnam said. “Any of our students in construction management, construction engineering and civil engineering could be interested in pursuing that pathway for heavy construction. So, one of my most important roles is to help connect students with mentors in the industry.”

Ariaratnam also notes that many people in the heavy construction industry are also members of the Beavers Trust, and he hopes to engage students through those connections. Besides residential, commercial and industrial construction, there are several different areas of the industry for ASU students to explore including heavy construction.

“The heavy construction industry has been my focus in teaching and research, and I want to continue to be a champion of that, representing ASU and the Beavers-Ames Chair,” Ariaratnam said. “That includes sharing my research at various conferences and different industry events, getting students more engaged in research activities and helping them gain an appetite for being part of the heavy construction industry.”

Pendyala says of Ariaratnam’s honor, “It is truly a well-deserved title that recognizes his 25 years of teaching, research and service, 20 of which he has devoted to ASU.”

Karishma Albal

Student Science/Technology Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering