Tribal Nations Tour to share message of higher education

August 10, 2012

Arizona State University will travel to northeastern Arizona during the week of Aug. 13 to encourage youth to consider higher education. Led by the ASU President’s Office of American Indian Initiatives, current ASU students and staff will provide outreach, academic guidance and college preparation tips to American Indian students, families and communities.

In 2011, ASU received a College Access Grant from the Arizona Governor’s Office to bring information about higher education to tribal communities throughout Arizona. As a result, ASU’s Tribal Nation’s Tour (TNT) traveled to 22 schools in 17 Arizona Indian tribal communities, including the Tohono O’odham Nation, Hopi Tribe, Cocopah Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Yavapai-Apache Nation, White Mountain Apache Tribe and other tribal nations. Through these visits, TNT has reached more than 2,400 elementary and high school students, and more than 380 parents and school personnel.  Download Full Image

TNT recruits current ASU students to travel to some of Arizona’s rural Indian tribal communities to share their experiences through personal stories, skits and a variety of activities to encourage young people to go to college.

Many of these ASU students come from the very communities that the TNT visits. 

“I go out on TNT trips to encourage students," said ASU junior Diedra Vasquez (Navajo/Tohono O’odham), an active TNT participant. "But the tours also helped me realize that we need to support the youth. Many are our brothers and sisters, and we need to work to get them here – to higher education.”

ASU has one of the highest American Indian/Native American student populations in the nation. In the 2011 academic year, approximately 2,000 American Indian students were enrolled at ASU.

ASU also is a leading university in the country for awarding graduate degrees to American Indian students. ASU President Michael M. Crow has built ASU’s success around a new model for the American research university that is committed to excellence, impact and access. Ensuring access to ASU’s excellent educational resources includes working with tribal communities to ensure higher education is not a dream but a real possibility.  

The ASU Tribal Nations Tour kicks off the 2012 academic year next week with a visit to the Navajo Nation. Twenty-one ASU students and staff will embark on a six-day tour of Navajo Nation-based schools including Chinle Junior High; Many Farms Community Schools; Rock Point; Red Mesa Junior High; Kayenta Middle School; Monument Valley High School; Shonto Preparatory; Kaibeto Boarding School; Tuba City Boarding School; and Tuba City Unified Schools. 

For a future visit by ASU to your school or community, contact Annabell Bowen, at 480-727-8325 or

'Chunky' documentary examines Chicana/o culture, activism

August 10, 2012

How can music and art be used as a vehicle for building greater tolerance for cultural differences? How can we make the culture and history of the U.S. border region understandable to the average American?

These are a few of the timely themes highlighted in a documentary film by award-winning filmmaker Paul Espinosa, who is a professor in ASU's School of Transborder Studies. His film, "Chunky: The Making of a Social Activist," tells the story of Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, a southern California musician, composer and community activist. Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez Download Full Image

“This documentary examines how Sanchez’ personal development as an activist is interwoven with the broader history of the Chicana/o community in the U.S. and the unique cultural dynamics of the U.S.-Mexican border,” says Espinosa.

Influenced by the social unrest he witnessed in his youth as both a child of farm working parents and as a student during the turbulent 1960s, Chunky became a central figure in the early days of the Chicana/o movement and continues to be instrumental in today’s immigrant rights protests.

Chunky's music captures the spirit of a generation driven to make significant changes in their lives and their communities. His music doesn't just reflect the struggles within the community since the 1970s, it has come to constitute and embody these struggles, actually shaping their trajectory, becoming synonymous with community pride, ethnic empowerment, and local autonomy in powerful ways that generate emotion and cultural connections.

The Institute for Humanities Research and the School of Transborder Studies will present a screening, Oct. 1, of a work in progress of the documentary, followed by lunch and a panel discussion featuring Espinosa and several scholars advising on the film including Luis Alvarez, associate professor of history at the University of California, San Diego; Estevan Cesar Azcona, adjunct assistant professor of Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston; and Michelle Tellez, assistant professor in ASU's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

The screening and discussion will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Alumni Lounge (room 202), in the Memorial Union on ASU’s Tempe campus. The event is free and open to the public, but admission is by R.S.V.P. only.

Espinosa has been involved with producing films for more than 30 years. He specializes in documentary and dramatic films focused on the U.S.-Mexico border region. Espinosa's major national production credits include "California and the American Dream," "…and the earth did not swallow him," "The Lemon Grove Incident," "The Border," "Taco Shop Poets," and "The U.S.-Mexican War: 1846-1848." His films have been presented at festivals around the country and have won many awards, including eight Emmys, five CINE Golden Eagle awards, and a Golden Mike award.

Espinosa and Michelle Tellez are the recipients of an IHR Seed Grant award for this project. The IHR competitive Seed Grant aims to launch new projects while also enhancing grant proposals with the goal of increasing the opportunity for external grant funding.  

To R.S.V.P., visit For more information, contact the IHR at 480-965-3000 or