Highlighting Native Women in the Library Field

Indigenous Connections & Collections

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

March 9, 2024

New Mexico tribal libraries and librarians have served their communities for over fifty years. Established in 1968 by Vista volunteers, the Laguna Pueblo Library was one of the first to open. In 1974, Elizabeth “Liz” Wacondo(Laguna Pueblo) was hired as the first librarian at Laguna.

A Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant in 1975 established tribal libraries at the Pueblos of Acoma, Cochiti, Jemez, Laguna, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Santo Domino, Zia and Zuni with Library Aides. Today, each of the 19 Pueblos has a library, as well as the Navajo Nation, Mescalero and Jicarilla Apache libraries. Tribal libraries are more than just a place for books and academic learning. They are intergenerational community centers to learn traditional arts and language, experience other cultural traditions, check out musical instruments, with field trips to places like the Santa Fe opera, to name a few.

From Historypin are videos highlighting Jemez, Laguna, Mescalero, Santa Clara, and Santo Domingo in “Deep Dive: New Mexico Tribal Public Libraries” featuring Pueblo librarians Cynthia Aguilar (Santo Domingo; retired), Janice Kowemy (Laguna Pueblo), Maureen Wacondo (Jemez/Laguna; retired), and Teresa Naranjo (Santa Clara).

In recognition of Women’s History Month, the ICC blog will highlight several of my Pueblo librarian and archivist colleagues and the work that they do. Each is dedicated to improving information services to and about tribal communities, and to ensuring proper respect of our tribal peoples and history while promoting our proud history and resilience.

Brittany Garcia – Zuni Pueblo

Brittany Garcia is the Archivist at the Pueblo of Zuni Tribal Archives. She has worked for the Pueblo of Zuni since 2016, previously as a Legal Advocate for the New Beginning Program, a Domestic Violence Program and as the Administrative Assistant for the Governor’s office.

In 2014, Brittany graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Native American Studies. She has certification as a Tribal Court Legal Advocate from the National Tribal Trial College and the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Brittany loves the Harry Potter series and the Sigma Force novels by James Rollins. She loves playing games (video, board and card) with family. Some of her favorite movies (influenced by her one-year-old grandson) are Moana, Coco, and Ratatouille. She also enjoys crocheting, sewing, quilting, and designing.

Q: Why did you become an archivist?

A: To be truthful, I got started in archives when I needed a career change, I previously worked as a Legal Advocate for a Domestic Violence program, which can be very heavy and is mentally demanding work. I was dealing with depression and needed to transition into something that would allow me to heal myself. An Archives and Records Management position opened up and, with my past experience as an Administrative Assistant, I was able to secure the position. I quickly fell in love with archives. Given my aspirations earlier in my life—I wanted to be an Egyptologist or an archaeologist, in addition to my love of books, and with my degree in Native American Studies—Archives, especially a tribal archives, seemed to be wonderful fit for me. 

Delving into and learning how to steward the tribe’s recent history, in addition to learning how to use technology in supplementing the preservation and generation of new records, has captured me. I’m looking at how we can use the archives to help community members to care for the Pueblo of Zuni’s Tribal organizations records, but also diving more into community archiving by teaching classes and really becoming a cultural archive for the Pueblo of Zuni. There is so much opportunity for the future, and so much to accomplish to get us to that point. I’m a little intimidated by everything that still needs to be accomplished in order to get to what I, and others envision. Knowing it’s for a community that is rich in history and culture and knowing that it’s for my grandson who is Zuni, I know I can do it! It’s a labor of love and commitment.  

Q: As an archivist, what services do you provide?

A: Right now, we provide research and help in processing information requests. We are working on expanding operations to include more records management for the tribal organization, with plans for document disposition and a repository in the future. Additionally, we are setting up an AV room for use in preservation and digitization and hope to have that up and running by the end of the year. Our hope is that the AV room can be used not only for preservation and digitization, but also in the creation of other digital media- podcasts, videos, photos, etc., both by Tribal programs and by the community. 

Q: What does your service to your community mean to you?

A: To me, service to my community means using my resources—including, but not limited to my education and abilities—to help further my community and to contribute towards a better future for all, no matter how big or small the contribution may be perceived to be. I believe that if all are working/contributing towards the betterment of the community, each step will bring us closer to the community that we want. Some services are more visible, like picking up trash or cleaning ditches or building and staffing a hospital. Other activities are less visible, but every bit as important—like helping to care for records and history. 

Q: As a tribal archivist, what is your hope for what you want to accomplish for your community?

A: Short answer: I just hope to help the Pueblo of Zuni steward their own records, both those currently in existence and those that will be created, in a way that will help the community, both now and in the future.

Longer answer: There is so much that I want to accomplish! I want to help grow the archives and the Zuni Cultural and Educational Resources Center to really be a powerhouse of cultural learning and preservation for the community. I envision the Cultural Center becoming the heart of the community, where learning and culture happen daily—language learning, community archiving (photos, audio and video the community is interested in preserving), preservation of textual/governmental records, as well as traditional arts and crafts preservation. We dream of having workshops for artists with space for them to teach and share their craft before it dies out. The Archives would be at the heart of this and would grow to also include a repository for the tribal organization programs. We are growing in that direction with the start of AV room and exploring how we can use the archives in unexpected ways to help the community in retaining and helping Zuni culture. 

Cordelia Hooee (left) with Brittany Garcia. Photo courtesy of Cordelia Hooee

Codi Home – Zuni Pueblo

Cordelia Hooee is currently in her second year of a four-year term as Lieutenant Governor of Zuni Pueblo. Previously, she served as the Archivist and Cultural Resources Manager of the Cultural Resources Center, which includes the Zuni Tribal Archives, Zuni Public Library, A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center and Census Program. She has more than 30 years of experience working in libraries and archives. Cordelia has twice been honored with the Community Achievement award from the New Mexico Library Association. 

Cordelia is a lifelong learner and has been a college student since 1985. In different degree programs, of course. As a Knowledge River Scholar, Cordelia received her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Arizona School of Information and is currently enrolled online in the Master of Fine Arts in Cultural Administration program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Cordelia believes in the power of education. For her, it’s not a matter of earning a degree, but rather learning and passing on what she’s learned to others. Her motivation for learning is to be knowledgeable so that when people come to her for help—whether it’s for assistance or for information, whether she’s the librarian or archivist or Lt. Governor—she can provide that knowledge. Her motto is: When you limit yourself, you limit the people you serve. 

Q: As a tribal archivist, what do you hope to accomplish for your community?

Although I now serve as the Lt. Governor, my passion is still tribal archives and libraries. I hope with this position I can be a louder voice in advocating for the needs of tribal archives and libraries and that I can bring more awareness that will, perhaps, improve the situations of each. As the Lt. Governor, I still use my skills as an archivist to organize all the information and records into collections that our office receives.

Q: What made you decide to run for the position of Lt. Governor?

A: My motivation to run for office was that I saw many things that needed to change, especially for our tribal organization and the education of our children. The Governor and Lt. Governor run as a team. When I was first asked, I was hesitant. I loved what I was doing as the Archivist and Cultural Resources Manager, but at the same time, I was experiencing firsthand things that made me see there were needed changes in our tribal organization. So, I could either keep complaining or take the challenge to really try and change things. I accepted the challenge and decided to run for office. And here I am…the Lt. Governor for the Zuni Tribe!

I never imagined that I would one day serve as Lt. Governor for my tribe. It’s different, for sure, than being an archivist. I will always remember my very first All Pueblo Council of Governor’s meeting. I looked around the room at the Pueblo leadership and I suddenly realized I was the only woman present. It was intimidating, to tell the truth. There’s so much to learn and it’s overwhelming at times, but I remind myself that I’m in it for my people.

I’ve accomplished a lot both professionally and academically. I’ve had support and encouragement from so many people and I owe a part of my success to them. I was recognized by my tribal organization for my work as the tribal librarian. My career in library and archives has spanned over 30 years and I’m proud of that.

Cordelia was one of twenty women interviewed for the Journeys and Pathways: Contemporary Pueblo Women in Leadership, Service, and the Arts oral history project. She and her mentor, Marnella Kukate-Yepa (Zuni Pueblo) discuss the importance of mentorship in their interview, “Mentors and Mentoring: Continued Success in Life’s Journey.”

Sarah Kostelecky – Zuni Pueblo

Sarah Kostelecky works at the University of New Mexico (UNM) University Libraries and is the Director of Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication and an Associate Professor. Previously, she served as the Education Librarian and Access Services Librarian in the Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP). Before working at UNM Libraries, Sarah was the Library Director at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and a children’s librarian at the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County libraries.

Sarah was a Spectrum Scholar and earned an MA in Information Resources and Library Science and a BA in Sociology from the University of Arizona.

Along with David A. Hurley and Paulita Aguilar (Santo Domingo Pueblo), she co-edited “Sharing Knowledge and Smashing Stereotypes: Representing Native American, First Nation, and Indigenous Realities in Library Collections,” a special double issue of the journal, Collection Management. She co-authored “Cultural Humility” with David A. Hurley and Lori Townsend (Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley).

Sarah’s work is a great example of the various positions one can do within the library field. 

Q: What does your job as Director of Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication entail? 

A: As the Director of Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication, my department works to support the digital publication of research and educational materials created on the UNM campus and from partners at libraries/archives/museums in the state of New Mexico. That includes scanning physical items, describing the materials so they can be found by users, and publishing them for researchers. 

I focus on supporting 1) the open digital publication of research from the UNM campus and 2) the digitization of physical collections about New Mexico history and culture with partners in libraries and archives across the state. This work is grounded in the idea of providing free access to information for researchers wherever they are (campus and community). 

Q: What do you teach?

A: As an assistant professor and librarian, I teach people about engaging in their own research and how to use the resources at UNM. I also engage and publish my own research, much of which is focused on Native American library collections and services. 

A couple of highlights from my career are co-authoring and co-editing two books on the use of cultural humility in libraries from ALA Editions; and coordinating the digitization and digital publication of language learning materials from my tribal community. 

Q: How do you hope your work impacts your tribal community?

A: Being a Native librarian from Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, I center my work in advocating for and highlighting the knowledge and contributions of Native people and perspectives in libraries and archives. I hope to positively impact my tribal community by advocating for the respectful stewardship of library collections and materials about us so other Zuni people can find empowering and accurate information about us and written by us. Through education and sharing stories with my non-Native colleagues, I work to get libraries and the individuals who work in them to acknowledge the biases in library collections, policies, and processes and to move toward centering Indigenous knowledge. 

I hope to see more Indigenous people join the field of librarianship so we can continue to increase Indigenous representation in these cultural institutions and improve the library experience for Native people, especially young people, now and in the future.

Q: Why did you decide to become a librarian?

A: I decided I wanted to be a librarian after a student job in college on a grant focused on engaging and building community among tribal libraries, archives, and museums. That was the start of what is now known as ATALM (Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums), the organization and grant that brings tribal people together who work in those cultural organizations. It was an amazing opportunity to meet and learn from other Native people in the field and to hear about issues affecting tribal cultural organizations, specifically. I had two supervisors in college (one was a Native woman) who both encouraged me to apply to library school and I did. I am so thankful for their encouragement. It has been the right path for me!

Q: How did you get to the current positions you currently have?

A: I have worked at different types of libraries (public, tribal college, university) and in different roles (children’s librarian, library director, education librarian). I enjoy learning and look for positions that will challenge me and provide opportunities to learn new skills or have different types of positive impact. My current role allows me to advocate for respectful access and description of Native American digital materials because I can implement policies that center Indigenous knowledge and expertise. 

Q: What do you enjoy about what you do?

A: I enjoy engaging with people and listening to their stories, hearing the passion for their work and the reasons why they engage in their own particular research. Building relationships with library users and colleagues keeps me invigorated as I learn from them while also sharing my experiences and knowledge.

Janice Kowemy – Laguna Pueblo

Janice Kowemy manages the Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP), which is part of the University of New Mexico (UNM) University Libraries, located on the second floor of Zimmerman Library.

Janice succeeded Liz Wacondo as the Library Director for the Laguna Public Library. In 2017, the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums (ATALM) recognized the Laguna Pueblo Library with the Library Institutional Excellence Award.

Janice obtained a master’s degree in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of New Mexico.

She has been involved with the New Mexico Library Association. From 2011-2013, Janice was the Vice-President/President elect of the American Indian Library Association. She also serves her tribal community in various capacities.

Janice loves cats, mint chocolate chip ice cream, the Backstreet Boys and New Mexican food. Her quote to live by is: Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. (Confucius) I wholeheartedly agree with that!

The Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP) is located at the University of New Mexico, on the 2nd floor of Zimmerman Library.  INLP provides a space for indigenous Leaning, promotes indigenous scholarship and cultivates indigenous creation. We provide culturally relevant information and research support, outreach and programming, and culturally safe learning spaces for studying and socializing. The space is also utilized by various student groups to host meetings and workshops.

Q: Why did you become a librarian? 

My journey to becoming a librarian was unexpected.  I never thought about being a librarian as a career choice. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to get started on that path.

My high school librarian, Alana McGrattan told me about an opportunity to work the summer after graduation in 2000 at my tribal library through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Native American Access to Technology Program. I was also trained through the Gates Foundation for the new technology and equipment given to the library. I had the opportunity to work with Elizabeth Wacondo at the Laguna Public Library. She taught me a lot. She encouraged me to take over after she retired.

I loved helping my community find information resources, find a book to read, help people learn how to use the new computers and software, troubleshoot technology, catalog materials, plan and implement summer reading programs, attend NALSIG meetings, and getting to know the community better. 

In 2002, I attended the American Library Association annual conference where I met many librarians from various types of libraries. I met one of my mentors and professors, Dr. Loriene Roy (Anishnabe) from the University of Texas-Austin. She encouraged me to get my Master’s degree in Library Science. Her program, “Honoring Generations,” had received funding from the Laura Bush 21st Century Grant to fund six Indigenous Students to attend the University of Texas-Austin. I ended up going to graduate school in August of 2006. In December of 2007, I graduated and in January 2008 I became the Library Director of the Laguna Public Library. I was in that position for 14 years. Since 2022, I have been a librarian at the University of New Mexico’s Indigenous Nations Library Program.

Q: As a librarian, what services do you provide?

A: Basic library services that include programming, readers advisory, outreach, community collaboration, and research. A few things I am working on include creating display themes of collections on a monthly basis, increasing usage and awareness of collections including Indigenous periodicals, American Indian youth literature, and Indigenous research topics. Migrating Indigenous collections to INLP for increased visibility and circulation. Also, developing Indigenous collections by purchase new materials such as Indigenous graphic novels.

Q: What does your service to your community mean to you?

A: Having a tribal library in the community is important to me because it provides information resources, creates a space for socialization, brings fun and exciting programs to the community, and promotes literacy initiatives.

Q: As a librarian, what is your hope for what you wanted to accomplish (for your community)?

A: I have had the opportunity to work closely with many of the Tribal Libraries Coordinators from the New Mexico State Library since I first started at Laguna in 2000. I have seen the work they did with New Mexico tribes in helping to get a library established in their community. They often did site tours, helped with reports, and offered training in basic library skills. Doing all those things for New Mexico tribal libraries has been a dream of mine.

For the library in my community: To have a fully staffed and funded library, and a bigger library space to include meeting space and a Community Archive.

Debbie Reese – Nambé Owingeh

Debbie is a former schoolteacher and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne where she helped start an American Indian Studies program.

Debbie earned a PhD in Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne. As part of the Circle of Learningcohort, she has a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University.

Debbie has studied representations of Native people in children’s and young adult books for over thirty years. She advocates for factually, historically and culturally accurate books. Her book chapters, articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in print and online academic journals, including publications that are used by teachers and librarians.

From her lesson, “Native Americans Today” at ReadWriteThink.org is a Present-Day Native American Book List and Teaching Native American Literature and Cultures: Additional Teacher Resources.

Established in 2006, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. AICL was created to help people develop a critical stance for evaluating American Indians in children’s books. Dr. Jean Mendoza joined AICL as co-editor in 2016. AICL offers reviews of authors and books, as well as links to posts of Best Books for each year that will help you find appropriate books selected by Native people including members of the American Indian Library Association.

End note: There are tribal librarians and archivists of all types across North America working in tribal, public, special, and academic libraries, and community archives. Our number is small. Our resources are often small. We encourage and appreciate collaborations whether to assist with job duties through interns and sharing of skills and equipment. We welcome you to come learn about tribal our communities and history. We are there to help you find accurate information and books about us, especially those written by us. 

If you are not sure if, or where, a tribal library is located in your community, reach out to ATALM, your state library, or tribal cultural center.

About the Author

Jonna C. Paden, IPCC Archivist and Librarian, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. A member of the Circle of Learningcohort, she holds a master’s in library and information science from San José State University where she focused on the career pathway of Archives and Records Management. She is the Vice-Present/President-elect of the American Indian Library Association, Archivist for the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA) and the past Chair for the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA) Native American Libraries–Special Interest Group (NALSIG).

International Indigenous Librarians Forum in O’ahu

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

January 3, 2024

The 2023 International Indigenous Librarians Forum (IILF) was held in at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Honolulu, O‘ahu. This was my first Forum and my first trip to Hawai‘i. It was wonderful to experience the culture, food, hospitality, and the awe of being on ‘āina (land) surrounded on all sides by wai (water). It was an exciting and inspirational time of learning, finding encouragement and support, and meeting new friends from across the world! 

International Indigenous Librarians Forum (IILF)

Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national organization for Māori information workers, hosted the first International Indigenous Librarians Forum (IILF) in November 1999. With the exception of 2021, since the inaugural meeting, the Forum is held every two years. It has been in Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the United States and is organized by an Indigenous Library Association or by local Indigenous representatives. The IILF is a place for Indigenous information professionals and knowledge keepers — librarians, archivists and museum (LAM) — to discuss goals and challenges, learn about projects, encourage, and celebrate successful efforts and contributions to the lives and futures of their communities. This year’s Forum was held for the first time in Hawai‘i. Among several benefits, a $75,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation helped to increase attendance to the largest ever with about 200 delegates coming from Aotearoa, Australia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Canada, Norway, the United States and more. The American Indian Library Association had about seventeen librarians and library students from across the U.S. in attendance.

Each IILF has a theme tied to the location and Indigenous people of where the conference is held. This year the IILF dates included November 28, Lā Kū‘ōko‘a (Hawaiian Independence Day). Lā Kū‘ōko‘a served as the kāhua (foundation) of the Forum and was the guide to the theme “Ea: Indigenous Agency and Abundance.” The conference program states: Ea means sovereignty, independence, life, air, breath, and to rise up. Ea as our Forum theme challenges us to think about how we, as Indigenous information professionals, are breathing life into our institutions to advance Indigenous independence and sovereignty within our communities. How are we rising up? How are we lifting up our communities and their fight for ea?”

Photo: courtesy of Sandy Littletree

Day One: Day on the Land

Acoma plate by Edward Lewis

The first day of the Forum is a “Day on the Land” where delegates engage in the local Indigenous land, people, culture, and history through traditional ceremonies, games, cultural demonstrations, and food. This day, we spent at the Waimea Valley on the North Shore of O‘ahu. Delegates were offered guided tours and activities.

Waimea Valley is a wahi kapu (sacred space). “Waimea” means reddish water and refers to the vibrant red soil found here. Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) have lived here as early as 400 A.D. Numerous kahuna (priests) are recorded as having continuously dwelled and ruled from the valley since the eleventh century. Three major heiau (religious places of worship) are located here.

The Day One opening included the welcoming of the mauri stone, an oval rock carved by New Zealand artist, Bernard Makoare, and blessed by Taranaki elder, the late Te Ru Koriri Wharehoka. “The mauri stone was created specifically for IILF, and is imbued with the mauri, or life principle, of the Forum. The mauri stone holds the essence of the discussions, spiritually binding the attendees. At the conclusion of each IILF, the mauri stone is presented to the hosting nation to hold in safekeeping.” [Pamphlet: Day on the Land]

Next followed the delegation presentations of ho‘okupu (offerings) which are more than gestures of gratitude. Ho‘okupu symbolizes “the sharing of knowledge and resources that foster societal well-being by ensuring mutual support across communities and realms.” Delegation ho‘okupu also included cultural songs and dances. The American Indian Library Association offered a beautiful Acoma Pueblo plate. Various individuals also had various ho‘okupu.

Lā Kū‘oko‘a – Independence Day

Day Two: Ka Lā Kū‘oko‘a

Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) celebrate Lā Kū‘ōko‘a as a collective way of honoring their history of power and resilience, of community building, and decolonization rooted in aloha ‘āina (love for the land). 2023 was the 150thanniversary of the Hawaiian National holiday.

Faced with foreign encroachment, King Kamehameha III (c. 1736-1819) sent a Hawaiian delegation to the United States and to Europe with the power to secure the recognition of Hawaiian Independence. On April 8, 1842, Timoteo Ha‘alilio (c. 1808-1844), William Richards and Sir George Simpson were commissioned as joint ministers with full power to sign a treaty or convention on behalf of their government. Ha‘alilio and Richards traveled to the United States while Simpson went to England.

On December 19, 1842, Ha’alilio and Richards secured assurance from President Tyler of the United States’ recognition of Hawaiian independence. On November 28, 1843, at the Court of London, the Britain and French governments formally recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i by signing the Anglo-Franco Proclamation. U.S. Secretary of State John C. Calhoun, on behalf of President Tyler, gave formal recognition of Hawaiian independence. As a result of this recognition, the Hawaiian Kingdom entered into treaties with major nations of the world and established over ninety legation and consulates in various seaports and cities.

In celebration of Lā Kū‘oko‘a, Day Two ended with a pā‘ina, an authentic, traditional Hawaiian feast at Ka Papa Lo‘i ‘o Kānewai on the University campus. Kānewai is a lo‘I, a traditional Hawaiian style of freshwater aquaculture found nowhere else in the world.

The Hawaiian food was catered by Waiahole Poi Factory and included (top to bottom, left to right) lomi salmon, squid lu‘au, chicken long rice, ho‘io salad, haupia (round container), kalua pig, and rice. Yummy with a seafood twist!

Luau brings to mind a Hawaiian feast along with dancing. Tiki drinks, plastic lei, and grass shirts are inaccurate and misinformed Western cultural appropriations. Before the mid-19th century American influence, lū‘au had a traditionally different meaning. Chicken baked in coconut milk with karo was typically the main dish of the feast. The correct Hawaiian word for feast is pā‘ina or ‘aha‘aina.

A quick lession on Hawaiian Foods 101 by Waiahole Poi Factory.


Day Three: E kanikapila kākou

That evening, IILF delegates were invited to a kanikapila, an informal gathering where music is shared by participants to encourage fun and relationship building. Kanikapila is a combination of the Hawaiian words “kani ka pila” which literally means “the instrument that makes sound.” A common Hawaiian custom, families gathered to sing songs together, usually accompanied by instruments such as the ukelele and ki hō‘alu (Hawaiian slack key guitar). These community gatherings were a relaxed time for people to see and catch up with loved ones, eat some delicious food, and relish the shared joy of music making.

We enjoyed heavy pūpū (appetizers), visited, enjoyed listened to music and singing. I loved hearing the Aotearoa and Hawaiian songs in their language and envied the grace of their gestures along with the various dancers who swayed elegantly across the floor.

Bridging Knowledge Scholarship Program

Day Four: Poster Sessions and Closing

On this last day, delegates visited poster presentations by librarians, professors, information professionals, and students on various topics. Along with Cindy Hohl (Project Manager), I shared information about the Bridging Knowledge online MLIS Program at San Jose State University. This collaboration between the American Indian Library Association, Alaska Library Network, Alask State Libraries, Archives and Museums, and the Sustainable Heritage Network and sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services was created to recruit, build, and support a network of Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Native American students. Our poster was under the subtheme pilina, cultivating Indigenous spaces and networks.

In the afternoon, the Indigenous delegates gathered to enjoy a relaxing time in camaraderie doing various activities like coloring, drawing, discussions as we reflected on various themes, chatted, and learned from one another. We were given time to talk freely about any issues we face and offer advice and support. The non-Indigenous delegates also gathered and discussed ways to be effective allies for Indigenous colleagues and their work.

Mānoa, Hawai‘i

Photo: University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Mānoa is located in the Kona (southern) district of O‘ahu. Its name means “vast” or “wide” and refers to the extensive size of the verdant valley that it comprises. Mānoa is an agriculturally-rich valley due to the well-watered upper valleys, fertile soil and cooler weather. Traditionally, it was home to an extensive lo‘i kalo (wetland taro cultivation) system that produced tons of food annually. King Kamehameha I cultivated ‘uala (sweet potato) here when conquering O‘ahu. Mānoa is known as the favorite home of the ali‘i (royal ones).

Mānoa is home to the University of Hawaii and serves as an integral part of the reclamation and rediscovery of ancestral Hawaiian practices due to the critical research conducted at the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. Established in 2007, the School encompasses the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian StudiesKawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian LanguageKa Papa Lo‘i O Kānewai Cultural Garden and Native Hawaiian Student Services. Hawai‘inuiākea is the only college of Indigenous knowledge in a Research I institution in the United States.

Kamakakūokalani means “upright eye of heaven”; it serves as a metaphor for the Hawaiian Studies program’s higher mission of seeking truth and knowledge. The Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies (KCHS) was named for Gladys Kamakakūokalani ‘Ainoa Brandt, a prominent Native Hawaiian educator who believed it was through education that the Hawaiian people would become more effective agents in carrying out traditional ancestral practices, customs and in transforming, shaping and contributing to the world. The school, its faculty, classes and programs represent Hawaiian perspectives and knowledge within the larger academy. Most courses offered are distinctive and taught nowhere else in the world. (This section and image from the Lā Kū‘ōko‘a Celebration pamphlet.)

Ka Papa Lo‘i ‘o Kānewai Cultural Garden

Existing nowhere else, the lo‘i kalo is an integral part of the Hawaiian cultural ecosystem. It is a traditional wetland garden consisting of planting patches fed by ‘auwai, a complex irrigation system used to raise kalo (taro; Colocasia esculenta) and other crops and animals. Kalo is considered a family member, the elder brother of the Hawaiian people. It is a staple food and is used in medicine and in ceremony. 

Ka Papa Lo‘i ‘o Kānewai is an ancestral lo‘i that was discovered on the grounds of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in the 1980s. It is estimated to be well over 400 years old. It has been revitalized by community members and students and now serves as a pu‘uhonua (place of refuge) for learning Hawaiian knowledge.

Corn and kalo. Photos: Jonna Padden


The Hawaiian Kingdom. (n.d.) International Treatieshttp://www.hawaiiankingdom.org/treaties.shtml

Manoa Heritage Center. (n.d.) Kalo (Taro) http://www.manoaheritagecenter.org/moolelo/polynesian-introduction-plants/kalo-taro/

12th International Indigenous Librarians Forum. (2023) Day on the Land: Lā Waimea Welcome Packet.  [Pamphlet].

12th International Indigenous Librarians Forum. (2023) Lā Kū‘ōko‘a Celebration [Pamphlet].

About the AuthorJonna C. Paden
, IPCC Archivist and Librarian, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. A member of the Circle of Learning cohort, she holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from San José State University where she focused on the career pathway of Archives and Records Management. She is the Vice-Present/President-elect of the American Indian Library Association, Archivist for the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA) and past Chair (2020-2023) of the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA) Native American Libraries – Special Interest Group (NALSIG).

Native Superheros

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

July 1, 2023

This and next month the IPCC holds the Traditional Teachings Summer Camp for youth. The theme this year is Pueblo Superheroes – historical and current Pueblo leaders whose impact shaped and continues to shape Pueblo communities. 

What is a Superhero? The current Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a superhero as “a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers.” Beneath that, “also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person.” That is the definition that also fits the two Native superheroes I will focus on in this blog.

LaDonna Harris

Words that describe this superhero: Crusader, Fighter, Tenacious, Enterprising, Charismatic 

LaDonna Harris (Comanche Nation/Nʉmʉnʉʉ, 1931-) is the founder and president for Americans for Indian Opportunity. During her marriage to Senator Fred Harris (Okla.), Ladonna entered public service. Alongside her husband and through the work she helped him with, she flourished and found her superpowers. Her welcoming nature, charismatic personality, and understanding of people helped her find her voice to speak up for American Indians. 

In the 1950s, Harris helped to organize a campaign to desegregate Lawton, Oklahoma. The University of Oklahoma put together a human relations study about Black and White relations, labor, and management. Her husband had been invited, but suggested she be the one to attend and report back to him what she learned. When she asked at the meeting, “What about Indian people?” she was told, ‘Oh, well, Indians don’t have problems. The Bureau of Indian Affairs takes care of that.’ Her frustration at not being able to explain the situation to them led her to contact two university professors. The professors came to her home in Lawton to meet with Comanche people to talk about the issues and how to advocate for themselves. That led to the creation of Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity (OIO). (Harris) 

In 1964, LaDonna’s husband was elected to the U.S. Senate. The family moved from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C. This exposed her to government officials, including President Lyndon B. Johnson. Harris became the first senator’s wife to testify before a congressional committee. She encouraged continued funding in support of Indigenous tribal organizations. She created the course “Indians 101” to teach members of Congress about American Indians, their history, and their relationship to the federal government. 

President Johnson appointed her to the National Council on Indian Opportunity (NICO). From that point on, she was appointed to many Presidential Commissions and has served on executive agency advisory boards under five U.S. Presidents.

Harris left the NICO in 1970 and founded the Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO). AIO supports Native professionals to incorporate their traditional tribal values and perspectives into their work. The AIO American Indian Ambassadors program, started in 1993, helps “early to mid-career Native American professionals strengthen, within an Indigenous cultural context, their ability to improve the well-being and growth of their communities.” (AIO) 

In 1980, LaDonna was the first Indigenous woman to run as a candidate for U.S. Vice-President. She was the nominee on the Citizens Party ticket with Barry Commoner, one of the first founders of the modern environmental movement. 

Harris has a long list of national organizations she has founded, such as the National Indian Housing Council, Council of Energy Resource Tribes, and the National Indian Business Association. She is a long-time activist that fought for women’s and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and spoke out against poverty and social injustice. For LaDonna Harris, the foundation for making a better world for American Indians is in advocating for civil rights. 

The Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections at the University of New Mexico holds the LaDonna Harris Papers and Americans for Indian Opportunity records.

LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 available on various platforms

Jim Thorpe

The 2018 coin recognizes the accomplishments of Olympian and multi-talented athlete Jim Thorpe. The reverse (tails) design depicts Thorpe with foreground elements highlighting his football and Olympic

Words that describe this superhero: Leader, Determined, Strong-Willed, Herculean, Strong, Extraordinary 

Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, 1887 or 1888-1953) had extraordinary – perhaps even superhuman – powers. He has been labeled one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. Though best known for the two gold medals he won at the 1912 Olympics, he also played baseball, football, and basketball. In many of the sports he played, he was the captain.

Maybe his physical abilities were born of necessity. Certainly, in the days of the late 1880s, there were only wagons and horses to transport one from one place to another. So, you walked. Or ran, to get where you wanted.

In 1912, Thorpe was the first 3,000-yard rusher in collegiate football. (Smithsonian) His record for a drop kick field goal was 87-yards in 1917. Many of his punts were over 100-yards long. In a 1911 Carlisle football game against the University of Pittsburgh, states biographer Robert W. Wheeler, “It wasn’t even his longest punt, but Jim dropped back to his ten-yard line, punted the ball seventy yards, raced down the field, outleapt four Pitt defenders, catching his own punt, raced twenty more yards for a touchdown.” (Smithsonian) He consistently passed the football, punted, and ran farther and faster than anyone of his time.

WATCH: Jim Thorpe – Native American Olympian Hero

In the ancient Olympic Games, the pentathlon contest consisted of five events: the long jump, javelin and discus throwing, a short foot race, and wrestling. Pentathletes were thought to be the most skilled athletes. The training they did for these five events was part of military service, as each was thought to be a useful skill in battle. At the 1912 Summer Olympics, in the classic pentathlon competition, which consisted of the discus and javelin throw, long jump, 200-meter and 1,500-meter race, Thorpe placed first in all but javelin. 

The first modern decathlon occurred at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. The modern decathlon consists of ten events: 100-, 400-, and 1500-meter race, 110-meter hurdles, long and high jump, pole vault, discus and javelin throw, and shotput. For both the pentathlon and decathlon, athletes are awarded points for each event. The winner is the competitor that earns the most points. In the decathlon competition, Jim set a world record of 8,412 points – which remained until 1948 – and beat his nearest competitor by almost 700 points.

Note that Thorpe won the 1500-meter race wearing mismatched and wrong sized shoes because his shoes were missing, perhaps stolen. One teammate had an extra shoe, but it was too small. Jim squeezed his foot into it. The other shoe he found in a trash bin. It was too big, but Jim put on extra socks to get the shoe to fit. (Smithsonian) Superheroes do what they need to get things done.

The following year, Thorpe’s gold medals were taken from him because he had played semi-professional baseball. Like many other athletes did during the summer, he played sports to earn some money. In 1912, strict rules stated that an athlete that received any money, even prize money, was not considered an amateur and was prohibited from competition. 

In late 1913, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to strip Jim of his title, medals, and awards, and declared him a professional. Some believe his ethnicity as an American Indian had much to do with this even though Thorpe had represented a country in which he was not yet a citizen. That would not come for another 11 years; American Indians were granted citizenship in 1924.

It took 70 years for Thorpe to be reinstated by the IOC. He was made a co-winner with Ferdinand Bie of Norway in the pentathlon and Hugo Wieslander from Sweden in the decathlon. After a 2020 campaign that included a petition that gathered more than 75,000 signatures, the IOC reinstated Thorpe as the sole medalist – as he rightly was – of the pentathlon and decathlon on July 14, 2022, 110 years since he won the medals. 

For the Comic fans: Marvel

In celebration of Captain America’s 80th anniversary, meet the new Captains, “everyday people from all walks of life who’ve taken up the mantle of Captain America to defend their communities.” (Marvel)

Joe Gomez of the Kickapoo Tribe is a construction worker who rebuilds what has been destroyed to make it whole again. Joe was created by writer and geoscientist, Darcie Little Badger (Lipan Apache) and David Cutler (Qalipu Mi’kmaw First Nations). The new Captain debuted in August 2021 in issue #3 of the series, The United States of Captain America.

Voices: Heritage (2022) #1

Writers: Rebecca Roanhorse, Bobby Wilson, Nyla Innuksuk

Cover Artist: Kyle Charles

Voices: Indigenous Voices (2020) #1

Writers: B. Earl, Darcie Little Badger, Taboo

Cover Artist: James Terry


About the AIO ambassadors program. Americans for Indian Opportunity. (2017, June 12). http://aio.org/about-the-aio-ambassadors-program/

Harris, LaDonna. (n.d.) Indigenous Governance Database. Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times: LaDonna Harris | NNI Database. http://nnigovernance.arizona.edu/great-tribal-leaders-modern-times-ladonna-harris

Mather, V. and Panja, T. (2022, July 15). Jim Thorpe is restored as sole winner of 1912 Olympic gold medals. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/15/sports/olympics/jim-thorpe-olympics-medal-restored.html  

Merriam-Webster. (2023) Superhero. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved June 27, 2023, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superhero

National Native American Hall of Fame. (2018). LaDonna Harris, Comanche Nation. http://nativehalloffame.org/ladonna-harris/

Smithsonian, National Museum of the American Indian. (2012, Aug 24). Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete. YouTube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHu_UdqCZDs

The United States of Captain American (2021): Comic series. Marvel. (n.d.) http://www.marvel.com/comics/series/31896/the_united_states_of_captain_america_2021

About the Author

Jonna C. Paden, IPCC Archivist and Librarian, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. A member of the Circle of Learningcohort, she holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from San José State University where she focused on the career pathway of Archives and Records Management. Her Bachelor of University Studies from the University of New Mexico is focused on English (Professional Writing and Native American Literature), Linguistics (Native languages), and Native American Studies. 

Pueblo Poets

Indigenous Connections & Collections

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

April 1, 2024

April is National Poetry Month. Poetry and poets have always been an important part of cultures. Poetry predates written language. All forms of poetry, from epics to villanelles and blank verse to free verse, are a means of storytelling. Through the use of sound, words, meter, and rhyme, poets share history, folklore, ideas, and social commentary. The listener takes the words and interprets them for entertainment or inspiration, maybe bring awareness to self or others.

This month, the ICC blog introduces you to three Pueblo poets and their work. Read the April 2021 blog to learn more about poet Joy Harjo (Mvskoke [Creek] Nation) and her “Living Nations, Living Words” project, an introduction to three Pueblo poets, and resources to connect to Native American authored poetry.

Pueblo Poets

Max Early (Laguna Pueblo – Paguate village) writes in English and his native Keresan language about family and community in Ears of Corn: Listen (2014). He has published poetry in various magazines and journals and on the web (Zocalo Public Square).

Max was chosen for the 2022 cohort of Fellows to participate in the Indigenous Nations Poets (In-Na-Po) Mentoring Retreat in Washington D.C. In 2015, Early was the Lannan Indigenous Writer-in-Residence Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has received various fellowships: Writing by Writers, Orion in the Wilderness, and Taos Summer Writer’s Conference.

Max is also one of a handful of traditional potters in Laguna Pueblo. He has received numerous awards and honors for his pottery, and his artwork appears in various permanent collections across the U.S.

Nora Naranjo-Morse (Tewa – Santa Clara Pueblo) is the author of Mud Woman: Poems from the Clay (1992), which combines poems with photographs of the clay sculptures she creates.

She is also published in various anthologies, including The Great Southwest of the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railway (1996) and Home Places: Contemporary Native American Writing from Sun Tracks (1995). 

Nora’s poetry is a commentary on the lives of contemporary Pueblo women, community, tradition, and modernity. 

Nora is also a potter, sculptor, writer, and video producer.

Sara Marie Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo) writes of contemporary Native people’s experiences. Her collection of original nonfiction and poetry are in Red Milk (2013). Her writings can be found online, in anthologies, magazines, and journals. She has received awards and fellowships, including the Truman Capote literary fellowship.

Sara works in education and is also a performing artist, filmmaker, and an Indigenous advocate/activist.

Pueblo Book Club

The Pueblo Book Club selection for April is Poet Warrior: A Memoir (2021) by Joy Harjo (Mvskoke [Creek] Nation) the first Native American poet to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate; she served three terms (2019-2022).

Moving fluidly between prose, song, and poetry, Harjo recounts a luminous journey of becoming, a spiritual map that will help us all find home. Poet Warrior sings with the jazz, blues, tenderness, and bravery that we know as distinctly Joy Harjo.

Listen to Jon Ghahate (Laguna and Zuni Pueblo), IPCC Cultural Educator, discuss “An American Sunrise” with author, Joy Harjo.


WATCH: Indigenous Youth Poet Warriors – From the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indianin celebration of the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo, Native youth share how this “poet and champion of justice” has inspired their own writings. 

Poetry reading and panel discussion: jaye simpson (Sapotaweyak Cree Nation), Kinsale Drake (Diné), Sareya Taylor(White Mountain Apache/Diné), moderator: Kelly Caballero (Tongva).

Jonna C. Paden
, IPCC Librarian and Archivist, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. As part of the Circle of Learning cohort, she holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from San José State University where she focused on the career pathway of Archives and Records Management. 

Jonna is the current Chair of Native American Libraries (NAL), a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA). She is the current archivist for the NMLA and an active member of the NMLA Archives & Archivists SIG, the American Indian Library Association, and the Society for Southwest Archivists Diversity & Outreach Committee.

Indigenous Connections & Collections

This blog aspires to educate readers about Pueblo and Indigenous* cultures, as well as connect to online resources. Each post will feature new content on various topics.

October 3, 2023

Greetings, readers! It has been a busy year, which is why I have not written or posted a blog for several months. This month, I decided to take on this subject after seeing an August morning segment of CBS Reports: Yellowstone Bison Revival. Neither the journalist nor the three hosts knew the history of the near extinction of the buffalo (American bison). Why? Because like other dark parts of American history this, too, remains suppressed. 

The buffalo’s story intertwines with the history of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne of the Southern Plains. The Lakota, Salish, Kootenai, Mandan-Hidatsa, and Blackfeet from the Northern Plains, to name but a few tribes. Due the westward expansion of American settlers, the buffalo were nearly exterminated; it was a deliberate goal of the U.S. government to do the same to Indigenous peoples across the North American continent. 

The History of the American bison (Buffalo)

Buffalo are Indigenous to North America. Since time immemorial, they ranged from Canada to Mexico and from the Great Basin to the eastern Appalachian Mountains. Most of the population lived on the Great Plains of the central United States and Western Canada.

Before the immigration of Europeans to the American continent, the buffalo population was likely greater than the estimated number of 60 million. Within a little more than ten years of 1870, that number plunged to fewer than a thousand. By 1900, that number sank to the hundreds.

The lofty 19th century American belief in Manifest Destiny – the idea that the expanding United States was destined by God to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the whole of the North American continent – forced the removal of Indigenous tribes, and other peoples of color, from their homes and homelands. (History) Settlers pushed westward building rail, stage, and telegraph lines. But Manifest Destiny did not just displace people from the land, it also displaced wildlife like the buffalo. Once the buffalo and Indian tribes were gone, the land would be free for settlers to have their own fenced off, individual plot of land on which to put a house, grow props, and raise cattle.

The U.S. government wanted the tribes of the Great Plains to farm and reside on the tracts of land set aside for them. But a static existence is not the way of the Comanche, Lakota, Blackfeet, and other tribes. They lived alongside the buffalo herds; the buffalo took care of them. 

The American government realized the importance of buffalo to American Indian tribes. The “scorched earth” military strategy of destroying all that enables an enemy to fight, including deprivation of water, food, and animals, was one means of getting rid of Indians.

Hunters paid by the Union Pacific Railroad were encouraged to slaughter the buffalo. The growing international market for buffalo hides led to hundreds of thousands being killed for their hides or horns. The railroads advertised excursions of “hunting by rail” whereby passengers fired guns from the train roof or window. Though prime buffalo parts were taken aboard for food and trade profit during these trips, others were killed for sport with carcasses left behind to litter the land like superfluous garbage.

Like the Indigenous tribal peoples who originated in the Americas, so did the buffalo. The introduction of new diseases to the Indigenous inhabitants of North America diminished the population. So, too, the introduction of diseases from imported cattle also shrank the buffalo population. Along with government policies of subjugation and removal, the attempted decimation of the buffalo disrupted the traditional lifeways of Indigenous tribal people. It was an attempted suppression of tribal culture. But as the buffalo population grows and returns to its and Indigenous people’s homelands, so too are Indigenous tribal cultures revitalizing.

Gifts of the Buffalo

Buffalo are vital to Indigenous Nations for spiritual and cultural revitalization, ecological restoration, conservation, food sovereignty, economic development, health initiatives and more. (The Nature Conservancy)

The large animals provided numerous gifts by way of food, shelter, clothing, and tools. For all that they give, they are seen as relatives. We honor them though artwork, song, dance, and prayer. 

InterTribal Buffalo Council

The InterTribal Bison Cooperative (ITCB) was formed in 1992 to coordinate and assist Tribes in returning the buffalo to Indian Country as a means of cultural and natural healing. (WNPA) ITBC reorganized as the InterTribal Buffalo Council in 2009. Their mission statement is “to restore Bison to Indian nations in a manner that is compatible with their spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices.”

ITBC is a community of 83 tribes in 20 states that manage over 20,000 buffalo on approximately one million acres of Tribal land. The Pueblos of Cochiti, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, San Juan, Sandia, Taos, and Tesuque are members of the ITBC. (PowerPoint)

The ITBC performs a range of services: Herd Development and Surplus Bison programs; Bison and Range Management and Training, Health Initiatives like Nutrition Analysis and Outreach, Diabetic Research and Cookbooks; providing buffalo meat to member tribes; and Outreach Education.

Source: http://wnpa.org/the-intertribal-buffalo-council-helps-tribes-welcome-bison-home/

Like Indigenous peoples, the American bison has its own “reservation,” Yellowstone National Park. The bison here are descendants of their ancestors who roamed historic North America. (Dept. of the Interior) National parks such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon work with the ITBC to safely relocate bison from the parks to tribal lands.

Returning bison to its ancestral grazing lands replenishes the terrain giving it much-needed ecological and geographic restoration though the movement and grazing of the herd. In turn, it also expands the genetic diversity of the herds.

The American Buffalo

The “The American Buffalo” premieres on Monday, October 16 and Tuesday, October 17. This two-part, four-hour documentary “recounts the collision and tragic consequences of two opposing views of the natural world.” #AmericanBuffaloPBS



CBS Reports. (2023) Yellowstone Bison Revival [Video] YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWKkEjL_SXI&t=1186s

History. (2019, November 15) Manifest Destinyhttp://www.history.com/topics/19th-century/manifest-destiny

The Nature Conservancy. (2021, November 12) InterTribal Buffalo Council Partnership Adds Buffalo to Native American Tribes. http://www.nature.org/en-us/newsroom/partnership-adds-buffalo-to-tribal-lands/

NCAI.org. (n.d.) InterTribal Buffalo Council. [PowerPoint] http://www.ncai.org/conferences-events/ncai-events/Land_and_Natural_Resources_Committee_-_Inter_Tribal_Buffalo_Council_Presentation.pdf

Phippen, J. W. (2016) ‘Kill Every Buffalo You Can! Every Buffalo Dead Is an Indian Gone.’ The Atlantic. Retrieved September 27, 2023, from http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2016/05/the-buffalo-killers/482349/

U.S. Department of the Interior. (2022, November 3) 15 Facts About Our National Mammal: The American Bison. http://www.doi.gov/blog/15-facts-about-our-national-mammal-american-bison

Western National Parks Association. (n.d.) The InterTribal Buffalo Council Helps Tribes Welcome Bison Homehttp://wnpa.org/the-intertribal-buffalo-council-helps-tribes-welcome-bison-home/

About the Author

Jonna C. Paden, IPCC Archivist and Librarian, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. As part of the Circle of Learning cohort, she holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from San José State University where she focused on the career pathway of Archives and Records Management.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Marks 47th Anniversary ON AUGUST 28, 2022

To commemorate this achievement, we offer an encore of the inspiring story of IPCC, from its founding to the milestones that paved the way to the present day—and lead us into the future.

The Past, Present, and Future of IPCC

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is the inspiring cornerstone of what has grown from a single building into the thriving business and cultural corridor of the 19 Pueblos District in the heart of Albuquerque. IPCC opened its doors in the summer of 1976. The same year the United States was celebrating its 200th birthday, the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico were celebrating something far older—Pueblo culture.

This grand opening of the hub for preserving and perpetuating Pueblo culture was seven years in the making. In 1969, the 19 Pueblos collectively petitioned the federal government to convey a few acres of disused Albuquerque Indian School land to Pueblo ownership for the purpose of establishing a cultural center, and creating economic and cultural opportunities that would benefit tourism and business for the 19 Pueblos, Albuquerque, and New Mexico.

After conducting numerous studies and securing letters of support from city, state, and federal legislators, the endeavor to create the Gateway to the 19 Pueblos was given the green light. Upon opening in 1976, we began curating our permanent collection, which has grown to more than 4,000 objects, and become an invaluable archive for research on Pueblo culture.

As time went on, IPCC’s campus and offerings grew. Our restaurant and museum store opened along with the Center in 1976. The following year, the Friends of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center—a group of volunteers who raised money from donors around the world—launched the mural campaign that resulted in IPCC becoming home to more than 20 murals by great Pueblo artists. In 1979, we established the Native American Student Art Show to encourage our youth to hone their artistic skills and maintain their cultural connection.

The 1980s ushered in more milestones. When the Albuquerque Indian School closed in 1981, the 19 Pueblos petitioned to have the remaining AIS property across the street from IPCC conveyed to tribal ownership. We established our Library & Archives department in 1983, and 1985 saw expansions of our museum exhibit and restaurant. Throughout the 1990s, the IPCC campus underwent numerous upgrades and remodels, and we celebrated our 20th anniversary.

All of the planning and preparation of the ‘80s and ‘90s led to a boom period in the 2000s. The IPCC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but there’s also Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc., a for-profit enterprise of the 19 Pueblos that generates revenue for Pueblo communities and helps fund some of the cultural and educational programming of IPCC. Between 2004 and 2006, two office buildings were constructed across the street from IPCC, housing the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a long-term tenant.

The 2000s also saw the construction of IPCC’s south entrance, galleries, and ballrooms, as well as the grand east lobby entrance, and expansion of the restaurant. IPMI constructed a Holiday Inn Express across from IPCC, and expanded the old Pueblo Smoke Shop into Four Winds, a large convenience store and gas station that has become an institution for surrounding neighborhoods, as well as travelers.

IPCC and IPMI have accomplished a lot, but this past decade has been particularly invigorating. This period saw the creation of our Indigenous Wisdom curriculum project that provides educators with culturally based, easy-to-follow K–12 lesson plans for each grade level in math, language arts, social studies, and science, plus plenty of hands-on activities.

The annual Pueblo Film Fest debuted in 2014, and in 2015, IPMI opened the largest Starbucks in New Mexico next to the Holiday Inn Express, at what is now Avanyu Plaza. Starbucks at Avanyu Plaza features Pueblo-inspired architecture, and handmade Pueblo pottery and art. Some of the Pueblo artwork commissioned for the Starbucks generated a demand for what became the Pueblo Pottery Mugs, a series of coffee mugs designed by Pueblo artisans. The sale of each mug generates royalties for the artists and Pueblo communities, and makes Pueblo art accessible to people around the world as a portable beacon of culture.

We celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2016 by unveiling our new permanent exhibit, We Are of This Place: the Pueblo Story. It’s an immersive, interactive, multimedia exhibit inspired by traditions that have been passed down for generations, and its displays honor our land and all living things. Not long afterward, we also established the Bob Chavez Scholarship for the Arts, helping Pueblo artists who are pursuing the arts in higher education.

Avanyu Plaza continues to expand in phases with restaurant, retail, and office space development. In Phase I, a Domino’s Pizza and Pueblo-owned Laguna Burger opened as tenants in 2017, followed in 2018 by Sixty-Six Acres, a new dining spot from a popular local restaurateur. A large, decorative, open plaza was completed in 2019, which complements the retail and dining spaces being constructed around it. Across from this new outdoor space, IPMI-owned Marriott TownePlace Suites opened in the summer of 2020. In the spring and summer of 2022, an exciting mix of businesses in Phase II of our commercial development began opening, including US Eagle Federal Credit Union and 12th Street Tavern, a new neighborhood eatery owned and operated by IPMI.  Rude Boy Cookies and Itality Plant Based Foods opened in the fall of 2022, and IPMI announced La Montañita Food Co-op, New Mexico’s largest locally owned food co-op, as the anchor tenant for Phase III. In the summer of 2023, Mama’s Minerals and IPMI’s day spa and wellness boutique, Rainwater Wellness, opened their doors. All will continue to draw residents and visitors alike to the thriving 12th Street corridor.

It’s a truly exciting and inspiring time for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Avanyu Plaza. What began as a single building for a museum has flourished into a vibrant cultural and business corridor showcasing the best New Mexico has to offer, all while benefiting city, state, and Pueblo economies.

Today, IPCC is one of the top tourist attractions in New Mexico, and offers plenty of events, dining, and shopping for locals. Over the years our center has grown because of the love, care, and passion of all those who have passed through our doors, growing IPCC into what it is today, and what it will become in the years ahead. Thank you for being part of our story, and being involved in the past, present, and future of IPCC and Pueblo culture!

A Closer Connection to The Pueblo Story Starts Here

Experience a deeper, more meaningful connection to Pueblo people and culture by becoming an IPCC Insider.  You’ll have priority access year-round to digital and in-person exhibitions, events, programs and other exclusive offerings.

Join now and start enjoying the benefits of membership.  Your support helps us fulfill our mission to preserve and perpetuate Pueblo culture.

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Indigenous Connections & Collections

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

March 4, 2023

May is a celebration of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Among the month’s observances, we celebrate the contributions and heritage of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders. Read the 2023 Presidential Proclamation

This month’s blog features a guest blog that I wrote about Dr. Joe Sando for the online April edition of Pasa por Aqui, an initiative of the New Mexico Humanities Council. Reprinted by permission.

Dr. Joe S. Sando

Telling our stories: Pueblo author and teacher, Dr. Joe S. Sando

Despite the Pueblo’s long history in the Southwest, little has been written about Pueblo people and our contributions to history. What was written, especially for children, was not always complimentary and lacked accuracy. Dr. Joe S. Sando set out to change that, to correct misconceptions and misinformation. He became one of the first Pueblo people to research, write and talk about our history.

Sando was born on August 1, 1923 into the Sun Clan at Walatowa (Jemez Pueblo) and that was where he grew up. His childhood was typical of Pueblo boys in the 1930s and 40s. When not in school, he herded rams, tended to baby lambs and worked at sheep camp with his brother, Frank. He irrigated and hoed the garden and fields, cut wheat and fetched drinking water.

Joe graduated from Santa Fe Indian School in 1941 then enrolled at Highlands University for the 1942 fall semester. Rather than get drafted to the Army, he signed up for the Navy because the recruiting poster said he would learn a trade in the service. But, he writes, “neither I nor any of my boot camp mates went to any school.”

In 1944, Sando applied to be a yeoman striker (office clerk and typist). He had taken the time to learn to type while at boot camp Liberty in San Diego. He and boot camp mate Ricardo Otero from Tamaya(Santa Ana Pueblo) would go to the United Service Organization (USO), put a quarter in a typewriter and type for an hour. That skill certainly helped years later when he wrote an editorial column for the Albuquerque Tribune. Sando was honorably discharged in April 1946.

Military service gave Joe the opportunity to attend college on the G.I. Bill. He enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales in the fall of 1946. He graduated in 1949 with a degree in education. Over the next 10 years, Sando worked in various occupations at schools, met his dream girl, Louisa Barry Parker, married and started a family, and started graduate school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

In the 1960s, Joe served as consultant to the UNM Cultural Awareness Center, and with the Albuquerque and Bernalillo Public Schools. He gave lectures to the teachers on the problems Native children face in getting an education and on their socio-cultural background.

Sando started on the path of education with the All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC) Education Community in 1969. He organized education conferences and worked to make Native students aware of higher education opportunities.

In 1970, Joe joined the Southwest Cooperative Education Laboratory (SWCEL) at UNM, where he developed curricula, spoke at workshops and taught Pueblo Indian and Southwest Indian history. In 1982, he began teaching ethno-history of North, Central and South America at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Sando received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 1978 to research and write. He states in his autobiography, Pueblo Recollections: The Life of Paa Péh – Joe S. Sando, that his writing career started in 1949, his senior year at Eastern New Mexico University. Dr. Thelma Mallory said, “Did you know you can write?” In typical Joe Sando fashion, he told her, “Why do you tell me this now? I could have relished this compliment a thousand 

times when I was in English 102.” Thus begin his research and writing of several books on Pueblo history and highlighted the stories of people that helped shape Pueblo life. 

In 1985, Joe came to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center as a volunteer. He was assigned to the archives and the Institute for Pueblo Indian Studies (IPIS), which was established to be a library, to plan and direct educational programming and research projects. Here, he answered phone calls and email (those typing skills helped again!) from all over the world, from people wanting to know more about American Indians. Joe provided recommendation for books, was interviewed and filmed speaking on various topics, read transcripts and, sometimes, unexpectedly provided a Pueblo visitor their genealogy.

The IPCC Archives holds his research material, book drafts, speeches, correspondence and honors and awards. (I did the preliminary organization of his papers and can say there is some interesting material in here!) Of note, Joe received the Excellence in Humanities Awards from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities on November 1, 2000.

Throughout his life, Joe served the Pueblo and Native communities. He was an interpreter, guidance counselor, adviser, audiometric screener, project director, curriculum developer, instructor, speaker, researcher, writer, lecturer, a historian and a subject specialist, and world traveler. He was on several boards and won awards for his books. In 2008, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, through an Executive Order, proclaimed October 25th Joe Sando Day. The University of New Mexico awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in 2007. His enduring legacy is honored by the Joe Sando Symposium on Pueblo Indian Studies which brings together Indigenous scholars to highlight their work.

And so we go―Pueblo scholars and researchers alike―traveling in the footsteps made by Dr. Joe S. Sando to add our voices to history, to increase representation, to honor our ancestors.

Sando Books

Here are the books Dr. Sando authored, available to read in the library. Some of these titles are available for purchase at the Indian Pueblo Store.

Nee Hemish: A History of Jemez Pueblo (1982)

In this intimate account of Jemez Pueblo from distant times to the modern era, historian Joe S. Sando profiles a multi-faceted history of one of the most vital and enduring of the Pueblo Indian communities of New Mexico. Sando writes about the events he describes with the authority of a participant and a witness. He follows the story of the Hemish (people of Jemez) from the origins and development of Pueblo civilization to the continuing struggles to maintain the sovereignty, land and water rights so vital to the survival of the Pueblo people today. A unique and nuanced account of the Jemez people of New Mexico.

Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History (1992)

Pueblo Nations is the story of a vital and creative culture, of a people sustained by ages-old traditions and beliefs, who have adapted to the radical challenges of the modern world. Written by a respected writer, educator, and elder of the Jemez Pueblo, this rare, insider’s view of the history of the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico illuminates Pueblo historical traditions dating from millennia before the arrival of Columbus and chronicles the events and changes of the European era from the perspective of those who experienced them.

Drawing on both traditional oral history and written records, Sando describes the origin and development of Pueblo civilization, the Spanish conquest and occupation, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and the response of the pueblos to Mexican independence and conquest by the United States. Sando offers several portraits of notable Pueblo leaders whose contributions have helped shape the history of their people. He looks at internal developments in Pueblo government and presents a detailed account of the unremitting struggle to retain sovereignty, land, and water rights in the face of powerful outside pressures.

Pueblo Profiles: Cultural Identity through Centuries of Change

In this new book, Sando weaves a tapestry of individual lives against a backdrop of history, telling the stories of more than thirty political leaders, educators, and artists who took part in the events and movements that have shaped Pueblo Indian life from the time of the Pueblo Revolt to the present day. The author, who was born and raised at Jemez Pueblo, is a recognised authority and respected writer on Pueblo history and has been a voice in the affairs of the nineteen New Mexico Pueblos over several decades.

Po’Pay: Leader of the First American Revolution
 (1998) chronicles the history of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680and its leader, Po’Pay, with commentaries on the historical and cultural importance of these events. This is the first time Pueblo historians have written about these events in book form; previous volumes reflected Spanish sources or more distant academic viewpoints. Drawing on their oral history and using their own words, the Pueblo writers discuss the history and importance of Po’Pay, the illustrious Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Indian strategist and warrior who was renowned, respected and revered by their people as a visionary leader.

Pueblo Recollections: The Life of Paa Péh

In this autobiographical work, eminent Pueblo Indian Historian Joe S. Sando reflects upon his life and his accomplishments over decades of monumental changes for the Pueblo people. The book traces his early years in Jemez Pueblo, his time in the Navy in World War II, and his career in education and study of Pueblo Indian History. In his lifetime Sando was the preeminent scholar on Pueblo history. Using colorful anecdotes throughout the book, Sando presents his story with clarity, insight, honesty and humor.

Five Ancient Pueblo Warriors (2009)

Early history books tell about the struggles of non-Pueblo tribes who fought hopelessly to maintain their way of life and continue to be where their ancestors also lived. Fortunately, the Pueblo Indians did not suffer that kind of punishment. But we also had our share of problems with the arrival of new people from across the ocean. There were men who worked to bring understanding between the natives and the newcomers. 

At one point, the Pueblo Indians had to rebel and force the invaders back in the direction they came from. Popay(Ohkay Owingeh) was credited as the person who brought the idea of a revolt after he united most of the Pueblos. 

Following the Revolt of 1680, there were other men who risked their lives to bring understanding between the Pueblos and the invaders. Four more Pueblo men came to assist Popay, each in their own way. This was when Joseph Naranjo (Tewa) and Bartolome de Ojeda (Zia Pueblo) distinguished themselves during the years immediately following the Revolt of 1680. 

Pablo Abeita (Isleta Pueblo) and Sotero Ortiz (Ohkay Owingeh) fought a different kind of problem. They did not need to probe contemporary issues of the time, but the problems came to them. They fought for water rights, loss of land, as well as the right to continue dancing for entertainment and offering prayers to their deities. – From Forward.

The Past that Challenged the Pueblos (2010)

The first edition of the Pueblo Indian version of history titled: “Five Ancient Pueblo Warriors” first made its appearance in September 2009. 

In this, the second publication of this series, we shall try to tell what makes the Pueblo Indian people peaceful and hard working. We will first talk about three kinds of government to the Pueblo people. 

The second purpose of “The Past that Challenged the Pueblos” is to identify and present challenging issues in a simple and concise manner for even young readers. And lastly, it is the purpose of this publication to acknowledge and honor recent Pueblo heroes – War Heroes, Hall of Fame Heroes, and Track Heroes. – From Introduction.


Hartranft, M. (1973) Joe Sando: Man of many talents deeply cares about Indian affairs. Pueblo News. Sando, J. S. (2008). Pueblo Recollections: The life of Paa Péh – Joe S. Sando. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishing.

bout the Author

Jonna C. Paden, IPCC Librarian and Archivist, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. As part of the Circle of Learning scholar cohort, she earned a Master of Library and Information Science from San José State University in Archives and Records Management. She completed a B.U.S. focused on English, Linguistics, and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico. 

Since 2020, Jonna has been the Chair of Native American Libraries, a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA). She is the current archivist for the NMLA and an active member of the NMLA Archives & Archivists SIG, American Indian Library Association, and the Society for Southwest Archivists as part of the Diversity & Outreach Committee.

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Native Women’s History Month

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

March 4, 2023

This month’s blog highlights Pueblo women of the Journeys & Pathways Oral History Project and Pueblo women leaders who work for the betterment of their tribal communities and who encourage others to reach their potential.

March is National Women’s History Month, a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and community. 

In many tribes, American Indian women had a wide range of roles as leaders, craftswomen, healers, builders, farmers, and warriors. Today, American Indian women hold various leadership roles on the tribal council, as judges, lawyers, educators, activists, and decision makers within and outside their communities. Activism takes many forms from artistic and educational efforts, to economic and environmental projects. At the foundation of the work that Indigenous women do, you will find cultural values, care for community, and resilience.

Text Box: We survive war and conquest; we survive colonization, acculturations, assimilation; we survive beating, rape, starvations, mutilation, sterilization, abandonment, neglect, death of our children, our loved ones, destruction of our land, our homes, our past, and our future. We survive, and we do more than just survive. We bond, we care, we fight, we teach, we nurse, we bear, we feed, we earn, we laugh, we love, we hang in there, no matter what.
~ author Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo)

This month’s blog highlights Pueblo women of the Journeys & Pathways Oral History Project and Pueblo women leaders who work for the betterment of their tribal communities and who encourage others to reach their potential.

Journeys & Pathways Oral History Project

Twenty Pueblo women representing thirteen pueblos were interviewed as part of the “Journeys & Pathways:Contemporary Pueblo Women in Leadership, Service, and the Arts” Oral History Project. Each woman talks about their childhood and family, the pathway that lead to their occupation, the importance of mentorship, and provide advice to younger women.

Top row: Phoebe Suina (Cochiti), Paulita Aguilar (Kewa), Connie Gaussoin (Picuris), Pam Mahooty (Zuni) 
Middle Row: Alissa Chavez Lowe (San Felipe), Dr. Corrine Sanchez (San Ildefonso), Tara Gatewood (Isleta), Norma Naranjo (Ohkay Owingeh), Jonna Paden (Acoma), Stephine Poston (Sandia)
Bottom row: Melonie Matthews (Santa Clara), Dr. Shelly Valdez (Laguna), Tazbah Gaussoin (Picuris), Theresa Pasqual (Acoma), Jenni Monet (Laguna), Christine Zuni-Cruz (Isleta), Dr. Debbie Reese (Nambé)
Not pictured: Cordelia Hooee (Zuni), Marnella Kucate-Yepa (Zuni), and Valerie Fernando (Laguna)

Jenni Monet (Laguna Pueblo), award-winning investigative journalist on Indigenous Affairs and Indigenous rights and injustice in the U.S. and around the world. Read her articles here. Sign up for her newsletter, Indigenously: Decolonizing Your Newsfeed.

Norman Naranjo (Ohkay Owingeh) and her husband, Hutch, run The Feasting Place, a catering and educational program centered on traditional Pueblo foods. There they teach others to make traditional Pueblo food using traditional Pueblo agricultural practices.

Norma is also the author of The Four Sisters: Keeping Family Traditions Alive, which is a collection of recipes and stories of her life in Ohkay Owingeh. 

Representation matters. Founded in May 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese (Nambé Owingeh), the American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) blog educates readers about Native peoples and provides critical analysis of children’s books, lesson plans, films, and topics related to American Indians and/or how lessons about Native people are taught in school. On YouTube: Native Voices in Children’s Literature (Sept 2021).

Phoebe Suina (Cochiti and San Felipe Pueblos), founder and owner of High Water Mark (HWM), LLC, a 100% Native American, woman owned environmental consulting company. Utilizing a consensus-based approach, she works to address infrastructure projects and initiatives that incorporates traditional and local knowledge with science-based planning, engineering, and project management solutions. Combining tradition with since, she has successfully managed multi-million-dollar infrastructure projects and initiatives for Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pueblo communities, and New Mexico cities and towns.

Pueblo Women Leaders

Office of Deb Haaland

Deb Haaland Laguna Pueblo-Mesita village/Walatowa/ Norwegian) U.S. Secretary of the Interior

Haaland was born in Winslow, Arizona, to Mary Toya (Laguna Pueblo), a Navy veteran who worked at the Bureau of Indian Education for 25 years and Major J. D. “Dutch” Haaland (Norwegian American), a 30-year officer in the Marine Corps and recipient of the Silver Star (Vietnam). She has been a small business owner, voting rights activist, and 2014 candidate for New Mexico lieutenant governor.

Text Box: “I will leave the ladder down behind me so girls of color will know they can be anything they want to be.” ~El Palacio magazine

The Department of the Interior (DOI) manages public lands and minerals, national parks and wildlife refuges, and upholds Federal trust responsibilities to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities. The DOI oversees various federal agencies including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service. On March 3, 1849, a bill was passed to create the Department of the Interior to protect and manage the nation’s resources and cultural heritage. 

The DOI has been led by 52 males and one woman. Haaland is the DOI’s first Native and woman of color to hold a cabinet position.

Jenelle Roybal (Pojoaque Pueblo) is the first woman to serve as governor of Pojoaque Pueblo in 50 years. She had been the Lieutenant Governor since 2015 and has worked for her pueblo since 1994. 

She attended Northern New Mexico College and graduated with an associate’s degree in Business Administration Management.

About the Author

Jonna C. Paden, IPCC Librarian and Archivist, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. As part of the Circle of Learning scholar cohort, she earned a Master of Library and Information Science from San José State University in Archives and Records Management. She completed a B.U.S. focused on English, Linguistics, and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Since 2020, Jonna has been the Chair of Native American Libraries, a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA). She is the current archivist for the NMLA and an active member of the NMLA Archives & Archivists SIG, American Indian Library Association, and the Society for Southwest Archivists as part of the Diversity & Outreach Committee.

Pueblo Children’s Authors and Illustrators

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

February 4, 2023

In recognition of Children’s Authors and Illustrators week (January 29-February 4), read on about Pueblo children’s book authors and illustrators from the 1930s and 1940s to the present.

Early Pueblo Authors and Illustrators

One of the earliest Native children’s books, I Am A Pueblo Indian Girl (1939), was authored by Louise and published when she was thirteen years old. Through prose and poetry, Louise writes about her life, home, and customs.

Though the book’s illustrators are not credited and some paintings are unsigned, the artwork is by Allan Houser(Chiricahua Apache), Gerald Nailor (Diné), and Quincy Tahoma (Diné). 

Louise Abeita [E-Yeh-Shure, Blue Corn] (Isleta Pueblo; 1926-2014). 

This book is considered to be the first to document Pueblo life and art for non-Native readers. 

Velino Shije Herrera [Ma Pe Wi, Oriole] (Zia Pueblo; 1902-1973) 

In My Mother’s House (1941) was a 1942 Ralph Caldecott Medal Honor Book. The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Velino has illustrated seven books and a series of education pamphlets published by the BIA for its summer program for teachers as well as Young Hunter of Picuris (1943).

Pablita Velarde [Tse Tsan, Golden Dawn] (1918-2006; Santa Clara Pueblo)

Pablita retells six Tewa legends told by her grandfather and great-grandfather in Old Father Story Teller (1960). Her illustrations accompany the stories.

Indian Life Readers: Pueblo Series

Some of the first Pueblo illustrated books are a series of bilingual readers published by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs and were printed at the Haskell Institute (Kan.), Chilocco Indian School (Okla.), or Phoenix Indian School (Ariz.) Written for third-grade level students in English and a Native language, the goal of the readers was to motivate Native students to read and speed up English proficiency. 

Non-Native writers retold tribal folktales with translations into the Native language by Native linguists which included Hopi and a Pueblo, Navajo, and Sioux series. Native authors wrote about life in their tribal community and Native artists illustrated the books.

Because there were five different Pueblo languages (Keres, Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, and Zuni), the Indian Life Readers: Pueblo Series was bilingual in Spanish, as that had been a second language in the Pueblos since the seventeenth century.

Tonita Lujan [Khup Khu] (Taos Pueblo; 1912-2015) Tonita illustrated Little Boy with Three Names (1940), the first book in the Indian Life Readers: Pueblo Series. Written in English with a Spanish version, it is a story of a Taos Pueblo boy understanding the complexity of his identity as evident by his three names in English, Taos, and Spanish.

Velino Herrera illustrated Young Hunter of Picuris (1943), a story of a young boy who wants to became a deer hunter.

In contrast to his illustrations in his first book, these drawings are stylized, but realistic.

Percy Tsisete Sandy [Kai-Sa, Red Moon] (1918-1974; Zuni Pueblo)

A story about a young Zuni boy’s return home from boarding school. From his grandfather, the boy learns about Zuni life through the seasons.

*Note: Cover images are newer book editions.

Contemporary Pueblo Writers

Emmett “Shkeme” Garcia (Tamaya/Santa Ana Pueblo and Walatowa/Jemez Pueblo)

Coyote and the Sky: How the Sun, Moon, and Stars Began (2006) tells the Santa Ana Pueblo story of the beginning of the stars and constellations. It is also a tale of Coyote, the troublemaker, who doesn’t obey instructions.

Inspired by the many rabbit tales from the New Mexico Pueblos, Sister Rabbit’s Tricks (2013) tells of her naughty behavior to the other animals and the lesson she learned.

In Finding My Dance (2022), Ria Thundercloud (Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo) shares her journey as a Native dancer, a mom, and her connection to her heritage.

Ria’s favorite children’s books by Native authors and people of color.


Benes, R. C. (2004) Native American Picture Books of Change: The Art of Historic Children’s Editions. Museum of New Mexico Press.

NEH on the Road. (2020) Indian Life Readers: Indian Stories for Boarding School Students Lesson Plan. Dennos Museum. Microsoft Word – Indian Life Readers lesson FINAL.docx (dennosmuseum.org)

About the Author

Jonna C. Paden, IPCC Librarian and Archivist, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. As part of the Circle of Learning scholar cohort, she earned a Master of Library and Information Science from San José State University in Archives and Records Management. She completed a B.U.S. focused on English, Linguistics, and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Since 2020, Jonna has been the Chair of Native American Libraries, a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA). She is the current archivist for the NMLA and an active member of the NMLA Archives & Archivists SIG, American Indian Library Association, and the Society for Southwest Archivists as part of the Diversity & Outreach Committee.