ASU creates Indigenous Design Collaborative
January 4, 2019
Gila River Indian News
Around the Arizona State University Tempe campus, there is little sign acknowledging the Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh, who lived on the land, before being developed into a sprawling desert metropolis. Recently, ASU released a publication that explores how the culture of Native people can be represented on campus, which was unveiled at one presentation on Nov. 13.
“The reason why [w]e created this publication in the first place, was that I wanted generate dialog about how we can create an inclusive place through approaches in design on campus,” said Wanda Dalla Costa, ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the School of Construction professor.
Costa and a handful of Native design students worked together to create the publication, that explores how physical spaces on campus can reflect the people who inhabited the land. “When I came here I looked around and thought, ‘where are the physical markers of the people of this place?’” said Costa.
Costa said, high population of Native students, who attend ASU, creates a significant presence, which leads to more opportunities for increased visibility on campus. “We’ve done a number of research initiatives, which has led to the creation of a team of students to create a website, called Indigenous Design Collaborative.”
According the Indigenous Design Collaborative site, it is a, “Community-driven design and construction program, which brings together tribal community members, industry and a multidisciplinary team of ASU students and faculty to co-design and co-develop solutions for tribal communities in Arizona.”
Costa said the collaborative creates a sense of place, and brings Indigenous people together to talk about diversity, which includes other underrepresented students.
Costa said the book and the webpage is recognizes the indigenous people who inhabited the land on which ASU was built.
ASU Associate Vice President of Tribal Relations for the Office of the President Jacob Moore said, “There’s an obligation by the university to orient all students about our indigenous community and the rich indigenous culture that resides [here].”
He said educating the non-Native student population, brings to light the fact that there are 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona and how that is reflected on campus. Moore said the best way to represent those tribes is through equity in higher education.
“The true story of Indigenous people should be represented here and if it’s not there, we need to create opportunities for discussions that include community-based input, because you will learn more out there among the indigenous people,” said Moore, “We know tribes continue to grow and develop, so we need to learn about what is happening in [those] communities.”