“Our Journey to Washington D.C.” Local Pueblo Members Attend A.I.S.O Conference In D.C.
Article contributed by Michael Guillen (Ohkay Owingeh)
On June 1st 2015, the A.I.S.O members of the American Indian Center attended the NAISA (Native American Indigenous Studies Association) conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington D.C. After an unexpected flight cancelation and delay, we arrived inWashington with a well-deserved rest day and ready to venture out into the city to view the spectacular sights.
To fulfill this desire A.I.S.O members took an amazing tour of monuments which included the Capitol building, MLK Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, The White House, WWII Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, FDR Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Nurses and Air Force Memorials. To top off the six hour tour, A.I.S.O members experienced a Boat cruise through the Potomac River overseeing beautiful buildings such as the University of Georgetown.
Upon return from the tour we were able to see breathtaking museums such as the Smithsonian and Holocaust. Furthermore, members were able to see historic monuments such as the Po’ Pay statue, standing tall at the Capitol Rotunda along with other great heroes.
After an exciting day of sightseeing the A.I.S.O members attended a stimulating three-day conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Many American Indian professors gave excellent presentations of history, opportunities, and problems that many modern Indigenous peoples face throughout the world. Some key speakers included Northern Professor, Dr. Matthew Martinez, on his paper titled “Change Agents, Service, and the State of Pueblo Nations.”
According to Dr. Martinez, “among the existing pueblo nations, there are thirteen traditional government systems who appoint their governor and other tribal officers, and eight tribes who are set up by constitutions and voting systems.” This presentation discussed the modern practices of pueblo governments adapting to change while exerting traditions of governance.
Another key presentation included a panel of students from Dr. Patricia Trujillo’s Indigenous Histories class at Northern titled “Re-Mapping Indigenous History in Northern New Mexico: Students Using Google to Tell Simultaneity of Stories Told So Far.” Students included Kenneth Chavez, Leslie Talache and Angela Tapia. Students were excited to share their work on Ohkay Owingeh place names that included defining tribal histories and stories from local perspectives. We were honored and thrilled to see Northern New Mexico College represented at an international academic conference. Great job Indigenous Histories class!
On the last day of the conference, and final night in D.C, A.I.S.O members were hesitant to return home, but after another delayed departure from the airport, and a long day of waiting, A.I.S.O members were reminded of how great Northern New Mexico sounded. “I never thought I would want to return to the desert so bad!” exclaimed Michael Guillen when waiting for the return flight back home. After the five hour flight back home A.I.S.O members were relieved to be back, but were re-minded they are back to the heat of summer in New Mexico. When asked “What was their favorite part of the trip and why?” A.I.S.O members responded:
“My favorite part of the trip was when we got to see the Po’ Pay statue. It felt good to see Po’Pay in person, and touch the feet of the person who had such a great impact on all Pueblo Indians. Without him things could have been greatly different for Pueblo Indians today.” –Michael Guillen (Ohkay Owingeh)
“My favorite part of the trip was the signature tours of all monuments because it was rich in history and help me appreciate what all these key figures did for us!”- Nicole Soderberg (Nambe Pueblo).
The American Indian Student Organization members, staff and faculty wish to thank everyone who made our conference travel possible. Thanks to the P’oe Pathways Grant, the Newberry Library and the UNM Alfonso Ortiz Center for significant travel funding. We appreciate everyone who supported our GoFund Me account, numerous raffles, silent auctions and bake sales.
Kuundawhoha. Special thanks to Nicole Soderberg, A.I.S.O president who worked tirelessly to make this happen for students and staff! Thanks Nicole!
Story by Michael Guillen (Ohkay Owingeh)
American Indian Center Work Study & American Indian Student Organization member