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Phoenix yerberias focus of Rock Art Center lecture

March 31, 2010

Donna Ruiz y Costello, a recent ASU graduate in Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies (TCLS), will present a free lecture titled “The role of Valley yerberías and their owners in Phoenix Latino neighborhoods” at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 8, at Deer Valley Rock Art Center.

“Yerberías” are herb shops. Ruiz y Costello has been studying the role that the owners of these shops play in their communities. As a fifth-generation Arizonan of Mexican heritage whose father collected herbs from the desert, Ruiz y Costello has always had an interest in herbs and their healing properties.

When she received the TCLS Undergraduate Wells Fargo Research Scholarship, Ruiz y Costello saw the opportunity to add to the scholarship of cultural remedies and knowledge as practiced by the Mexican communities of Phoenix, an understudied urban Latino population of the Southwest. She discovered that yerbería owners are dynamic business operators who feel that their personal service creates an environment of trust necessary to mitigate local socio-economic stresses. In order to promote physical and spiritual healing, owners use herbs and spiritual intercessions derived from Mexican native cultural practices as well as post-contact knowledges from Asia, Africa and Spain.

More importantly, Ruiz y Costello discovered that yerbería owners possess a worldview that does not exclude the need for conventional medicine.

Ruiz y Costello currently works as community archaeology coordinator for the Deer Valley Rock Art Center and is working towards a Museum Studies Certificate at Arizona State University.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center is an archaeology museum located at 3711 W. Deer Valley Road, Phoenix. It has the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in the Phoenix Valley. Visitors hike a quarter-mile trail to view more than 1,500 petroglyphs made between 800 and 5,000 years ago.

The center is managed by one of the top archaeology programs in the country at ASU and is a Phoenix Point of Pride. For more information contact Kim Arth at (623) 582-8007 or The Web site is