Labriola Center celebrates Native American Heritage Month with events, exhibit

ASU Library's Indigenous-led Labriola Center offers events, an exhibit and book displays that bring communities together all year round

October 26, 2022

November is Native American Heritage Month, and while this annual celebration brings a heightened awareness, at ASU, the recognition does not end after the month is over.  

"Here at the Labriola Center, we celebrate Indigenous peoples every day and every month of the year,” said Alexander Soto (Tohono O’odham), director of the Labriola National American Indian Data Center. Four people standing around a table and smiling for the camera The Labriola National American Indian Data Center team (from left to right): Yitazba Largo-Anderson, Alexander Soto, Eric Hardy and Vina Begay. Photo by Kyle Knox Download Full Image

“As an Indigenous library, our staff seeks to enhance the visibility of our community through culturally relevant events, services and resources. NAHMNative American Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to further spotlight what we do for the other eleven months of the year. For us, we feel it is vital to make space and place for indigeneity throughout ASU," Soto said. 

During Native American Heritage Month, the Labriola Center team is hosting a lineup of events for students, staff and community to experience.

For Yitazba Largo-Anderson, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Labriola Center is community.

“At the Labriola Center, we’re about community. In the library and at our events, we invite people to come together to have conversations, be creative and center our Indigenous ways of knowing,” said Largo-Anderson, a member of the Diné nation and program coordinator on the West campus.

Working as a student librarian, Utohna Francis (Diné) connects Indigenous students to the Labriola Center's resources and events.

“My experience working for the Labriola Center has been an exciting experience filled with so much light,” Francis said. “It’s such an amazing sight to see Indigenous scholars come together, learning cultural knowledge and creating friendships. I hope students will be more mindful of tribal nations, their history and their resilience during upcoming NAHM events.”

Tempe campus events

West campus events

Honoring the life of Jean Chaudhuri at ArtSpace West Gallery

portrait of Jean Chaudhuri

Portrait of Jean Chaudhuri. Credit: ASU Library Jean Chaudhuri collection.

This year includes a special exhibit at ArtSpace West Gallery on the ASU West campus, in partnership with the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies at the New College.

The exhibit “What’s Life All About?” celebrates Native American community leader, author and storyteller Jean Chaudhuri. 

“What’s Life All About?” comes from the title of a poem by Chaudhuri, whose work highlights a central part of her life: what it means to give back to your community from an Indigenous perspective. 

“Several years ago, Jean’s papers were donated to Labriola, and as we were going through them this year, I was struck by how Jean was ahead of her time," said librarian and archivist Vina Begay (Diné). "There is an incredible history of how she helped preserve the Phoenix Indian School. When a proposed land swap threatened the school being demolished, Jean organized a preservation coalition to ensure that the history of Phoenix Indian School wasn’t erased.” 

Chaudhuri was a citizen of the Muscogee-Creek Nation and, in 1972, became director of the Traditional Indian Alliance for Greater Tucson and executive director of Tucson Indian Center.

An author, playwright and poet, she wrote the comedic play “Indians Discover Christopher Columbus” for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s landing on this continent. Chaudhuri wrote the book “A Sacred Path: The Way of the Muscogee Creek” with her husband, Joyotpaul “Joy” Chaudhuri. 

“Jean Chaudhuri was inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013. This exhibit allows us to share her collection with the community, so others understand the love, passion and care she had for the Indigenous community here in Phoenix and Tucson," Begay said. "Visitors can spend time exploring Jean’s correspondence, photographs, creative writings and other programs and services that she created during her life.” 

A special opening reception will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9 at ArtSpace West gallery that will feature readings from Chaudhuri’s family. The installation is free to the public and open until Nov. 23.  

Books that engage with Indigenous scholars and authors

The Labriola Center’s collections provide resources to support student and faculty academic success, including the preservation and curation of Indigenous Knowledge and awareness.

“We offer collections at both Hayden Library and Fletcher Library for everyone to explore,” Largo-Anderson said. “You can find contemporary books written by Indigenous authors and artists, including poetry and fiction as well as some remarkable zines and graphic novels in our collection.”

During the fall, two book displays will be highlighted. At Fletcher Library, a display dedicated to the issues and advocacy of Jean Chaudhuri will be located on the first floor.

At Hayden Library, visitors can find the “Information is Sacred” book display on the second floor next to the O’odham Storytelling Table. Created for the state of Arizona’s Office of Indian Education Indigenous People’s Day symposium, the display guides visitors through a series of questions to interact with the books on display. 

Books stacked on a table and displayed on shelves

“Information is Sacred” book display on the second floor of Hayden Library. Credit: Labriola Center.

“The expression ‘Information is Sacred’ comes from the Labriola Center’s mission meaning that Indigenous knowledge is important to our communities and our cultural values. Whether art, music or text, these should be treated with respect,” Largo-Anderson said. 

The staff and team of student librarians will continue to grow and share more exciting events and initiatives.

“Community building through cultural resiliency is at the center of what we do at the Labriola," program coordinator Eric Hardy (Diné) said. "Our staff and student staff strive to create community safe spaces that resonate culturally with the ASU’s Indigenous students and community. Our events and activities serve as entry points into our community. Come to our events and activities to learn more about what we do, and follow us on our social media platforms.”   

The Labriola Center is located at Hayden Library on the Tempe campus and Fletcher Library on the West campus. To stay up to date with events and news, visit the Labriola Center website

Marilyn Murphy

Communications Specialist, ASU Library


Black men's health and well-being focus of town hall at ASU Downtown Phoenix campus

October 27, 2022

The health and well-being of Black men in Arizona will be the focus of an event hosted by Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University and partners on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

“What’s Good? Black Men’s Wellness Town Hall” is set for 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27, in the First Amendment Forum at the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. The event is free to all who register. Information booths and free blood pressure screenings will be available for attendees. Photo of Olga Davis Olga Davis, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus and a professor and researcher in the ASU Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, focuses her work on critical cultural communication, health disparities and health equity research to improve the health outcomes of underserved populations, particularly the African American community. Download Full Image

Those who cannot physically attend will be able to participate in the town hall via Zoom and YouTube.

Highlighting the power of dialogue and in the spirit of a town hall meeting, this event brings together ASU and community-engaged partners for an impactful discussion of Black men’s health and wellness.

In addition to Barrett, The Honors College and the Cronkite School, the event is supported by the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovations, College of Health Solutions, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and the Global Sport Institute at ASU. Additional support comes from the Mayo Clinic and the R.W. Turner Lab.

A panel of community members, university researchers and local partners will discuss current issues of trust, health care, education and racial equity, and lead a question and answer session. The panel will be moderated by Marion Kelly, director of the Office for Community Affairs at the Mayo Clinic.

Olga Davis, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College at the Downtown Phoenix campus, said the town hall will focus on three areas: expanding knowledge and raising awareness of issues surrounding the health and well-being of Black male communities; promoting community engagement; and having an open dialogue with hopes of an annual discussion each year.

“We need to have a continual discussion, a discourse, around physical, mental, and spiritual health and wellness of African American men and to develop trust among community members in order to create pathways for healthy engagement with this population,” said Davis, who also a professor and researcher in the ASU Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. 

“Let’s dialogue, let’s exchange ideas, let’s work on issues and solutions to promote wellness in the Black community,” added Davis, whose work focuses on critical cultural communication, health disparities and health equity research to improve the health outcomes of underserved populations, particularly the African American community.

She works with the Phoenix-based Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer and has created a narrative play, "The Journey: Living Cancer Out Loud," based on lived experiences of African American survivors and caregivers of breast cancer which has been performed in various community and hospital venues in Phoenix and Scottsdale. She also engages with Black barbershops to raise awareness of health literacy and of cardiovascular disease among African American men in Phoenix.

“We hope this town hall event and dialogue manifests with personal connections between like-minded people who are committed to advocating for their health and well-being,” said Shea Alevy, director of staff operations at Barrett, The Honors College at the Downtown Phoenix campus, who is helping coordinate the event. 

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College