Book on birth of Bureau of Indian Affairs earns award from ASU Library

Author Valerie Lambert to deliver Labriola Center National Book Award lecture

November 14, 2023

The Labriola National American Indian Data Center at the ASU Library has announced that “Native Agency: Indians in the Bureau of Indian Affairs” by Valerie Lambert is the recipient of the center’s National Book Award.

The annual award recognizes scholarship in American Indian and Indigenous studies.  Portrait of Valerie Lambert Valerie Lambert, author of “Native Agency: Indians in the Bureau of Indian Affairs” and the recipient of the Labriola Center National Book Award. Download Full Image

The book award will be celebrated with a talk by Lambert on Monday, Nov. 20, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in room 204 on the second level of Hayden Library on the ASU Tempe campus. The event will also be live-streamed on Zoom. Registration is open and the event is open to the public

“‘Native Agency’ is a captivating book into the birth of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ mission of eradicating and assimilating Native American populations and the transitional operations for the BIA to be managed by Indigenous peoples,” said Vina Begay, assistant librarian with the Labriola Center. “It is a real-tale empowerment account towards hope and healing for Indigenous communities through an Indigenous perspective.” 

Published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2022, the book explores the complicated history of the BIA, the oldest federal agency in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Founded in 1824 within the U.S. Department of War, the BIA was initially used as a means to subdue and eliminate American Indians. In recent decades, a transformation started to occur as American Indians and Alaska Natives joined the agency.

Lambert herself worked at the BIA and provides an inside perspective of the impact that Indigenous peoples have working within a sprawling and confusing federal bureaucracy. In addition to outlining the agency’s history, her book shares a vision for how the BIA can support tribal sovereignty and Indigenous resistance. 

“Lambert's personal experiences as a BIA employee navigates readers into the transitional phases of an Indigenous-led management team (and) into restructuring and reversing the BIA’s past catastrophic mission towards positive changes for Tribal communities through restorative justice,” Begay said. 

Photo of Department of the Interior building with U.S. and DOI flags atop pole. Title and author in blue sky above.

Lambert is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina. She was raised in Oklahoma and is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College and a PhD from Harvard University in social anthropology. 

“Native Agency,” as well as thousands of other titles by Indigenous and Native American authors are available in the Labriola Center locations at Hayden Library on the Tempe campus and Fletcher Library on the West Valley campus. The renowned collection comprises contemporary books written by Indigenous scholars, authors, artists, poets and others.

“American Indian Studies programs talk about decolonization within Western institutions, and ‘Native Agency’ provides true accounts of what that actually looks like,” Begay said. “This book demonstrates and proclaims what that decolonial and restorative justice work looks like when colonial or Western institutions give Indigenous people those spaces to lead and make decisions for the betterment of our Indigenous communities.” 

Founded in 2008, the Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award is a national competition with book submissions from numerous academic presses. 

“‘Native Agency’ is a great addition and fits within Labriola’s mission in providing Indigenous scholarly works and voices; additionally, it is supplementary to Labriola’s own decolonial work in libraries and archives,” Begay said. 

Marilyn Murphy

Communications Specialist, ASU Library


3M awards ASU researcher for work in nanophotonics

November 14, 2023

Sui Yang, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, was selected as one of 10 recipients of the 2023 Non-Tenured Faculty Award from 3M.

The 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award is a four-decade-old program to encourage tenure-track university professors to pursue new ideas. The award selection is based on a candidate’s research, experience, teaching, academic leadership and their proposed vision of future research. Man wearing a suit photoshopped over an abstract background. Assistant Professor Sui Yang earned a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award to help his research in nanophotonics that could produce ultra-thin, flexible and high-resolution solutions for flexible displays, imaging, augmented reality, virtual reality and more. Graphic created by Erik Wirtanen/ASU using Adobe Firefly Download Full Image

The award provides $45,000 in unrestricted research funds to assist faculty to earn tenure, contribute to their field and foster ongoing relationships with future leaders in academic research.

Yang’s research is centered on nanophotonics, which creates artificial photonic and optoelectronic materials to control light-matter interactions for wide optical and optoelectronic applications.

Nanophotonics involves the manipulation and control of light at the nanoscale, typically at dimensions smaller than the wavelength of light. Researchers work with nanoscale optical components, such as nanoscale waveguides, photodetectors and light emitters, to harness the unique properties of light and enable various applications.

In his latest research, Yang, who joined the faculty of the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, part of the Fulton Schools at ASU, in January 2021, proposes to integrate metamaterials with polymeric materials, with the end result being able to obtain optical film unachievable before.

Yang says that polymeric materials, or polymers, are materials with repeating units of molecules. Daily plastic commodities, mechanical parts, flexible electronics and chip packaging consist of polymeric materials that are designed to integrate into modern life by being mechanically strong, flexible, lightweight and electronically conductive. However, the optical and optoelectronic applications of polymeric materials are very limited.

“Metamaterials are a new class of materials with artificially designed structure constituents that can achieve unprecedented optical and optoelectronic properties. The integration of metamaterial structures with polymeric materials can bring a completely new dimension to our consumer technologies,” Yang says. “It will be ultra-thin, flexible and conformal optical or optoelectronic films that have never been explored before.”

According to Yang, potential uses following this integration range from areas such as flexible and lightweight display components in TVs, tablets, phones and light-ranging lidar to imaging and sensing solutions for next-generation smart cameras, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies, integrated chip systems and biomedical diagnostics.

The 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award is not the only award Yang has won throughout his young academic career, which started as a senior research scientist and manager at the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also earned his doctoral degree. He previously has won the Microsystems & Nanoengineering Young Scientist Award, the Elsevier Reaxys PhD Prize, the NKT Photonics Student Award and a Rising Stars of Light award from Light: Science & Applications.

“To have my work and contributions recognized in this prestigious award is extremely meaningful and rewarding to me,” Yang says. “It motivates me to continue striving for excellence and making a positive impact in the field.”

Erik Wirtanen

Web content comm administrator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering