Book collection in ASU libraries showcases Indigenous stories

The collection focuses on the #LandBack movement, highlighting stories of Indigenous peoples

November marks Native American Heritage Month, a time to recognize and learn about the history and contributions of Indigenous people in America. 

In celebration of the month, ASU Library's Labriola National American Indian Data Center put together book collections that highlight the history and legacy of Indigenous people in six areas: education and history, law, literature, language and culture, music and graphic novels, and gender and sexuality.

The book collections are currently located in Hayden Library on the Tempe campus and Fletcher Library on the West campus. Both collections are located on the libraries' main floors and will be on display until the end of November. 

The book collection focuses on the #LandBack movement, an effort to spread awareness about the history of Indigenous peoples, the history and significance behind the land that we reside in, and to get Indigenous lands back into the hands of Indigenous people.

The six categories for the book collection are not only tied with #LandBack but also play an essential role in Indigenous history. 

The books in the collection, like "We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement" and "Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World's Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West," highlight the resiliency of the Indigenous community. 

Jeremia Johnson, a fifth-year student studying applied computing and student worker at the Labriola Center, said this collection serves as a space to consider how Indigenous people can center themselves in their own communities. 

According to ASU Library's Indigenous land acknowledgment, ASU's four campuses are "located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities."

“It’s just a way to heighten Indigenous self-empowerment and self-determination,” Johnson said. 

Lourdes Pereira, a sophomore majoring in justice studies, said the collection’s purpose is to highlight this movement in light of Native American Heritage Month.

“Not a lot of people even knew about the land that you reside on, let alone the whole #LandBack movement,” Pereira said. 

The collection of books offers a different perspective and side of American history than what today's education system typically provides, which lacks the perspective and history of Indigenous people, Pereira said.

“It’s a revitalization of who we are as Indigenous people and reclaiming this space because the genocide of Indigenous peoples of the Americas didn’t just stop and it’s a continuation even with assimilating in today’s society,” Pereira said. 

Pereira said that she hopes that people will learn more about the Indigenous people’s role in history through the collection. 

“I personally hope that people can just take some of this knowledge and education with them,” Pereira said. 

Elisabeth Johnson, a graduate student studying science of health care delivery, said Native American Heritage Month is a time of reflection.

“My three core values are family, community, and education, something NAHM represents throughout the month,” Johnson said in an email. “I personally attempt to promote those values in my everyday life and emphasize them during NAHM.”

Johnson said the collection and Native American Heritage Month give Indigenous people a space to embrace their history.

“It not only helps Indigenous people celebrate their identity, (but) it also raises awareness to non-Indigenous people to learn a history that was stripped from them,” Johnson said. 

By having the collection available during Native American Heritage Month, Pereira said that she hopes people will realize the importance of the history and traditions of the Indigenous community. 

“What I would really hope for with the collection is that people can first acknowledge that it is Native American Heritage Month isn’t just a month; it’s every day,” Pereira said. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @AnushaNat1 on Twitter.

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