AZ Speaks Catalog – Speakers 2023-2024

Akua Duku Anokye is an Associate Professor of Africana Language, Literature, and Culture, and Director of New College International Initiatives, Office of
Interdisciplinary Global Learning and Engagement (IGLE). Dr. Anokye is the past chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), and currently Chief Reader for the College Board’s Advanced Placement English Language and Composition. Dr. Anokye received the 2021 Outstanding Speaker Awards from AZ Humanities. Her research focuses on African Diaspora orality and literacy practices, folklore, storytelling, and oral history, and most recently, on African Diasporic women activists as community mothers.

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The Story Hour

Stories shape and transform our lives. This presentation explores the many stories we tell from folktales to memories of the past. It reflects on who tells stories and who we tell the stories to. Whether grandparents sharing their lives with children, or professors wowing their students with explorations and discoveries they have made–stories are at the center. What are the key points to share? How do we capture our audience? What details should we include?
Dr. Anokye begins with a Ghanaian folktale, then an African American tale from the early part of the 20th century, followed by a modern-day story. She shows the interrelatedness between these stories, and ultimately the power of stories to connect people. Dr. Anokye will invite participants to experience sharing a story of their own.

  • Presentation Category – Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – African American
    | Storytelling & Folklore
By the Time They Came –African American Men of Arizona

In this presentation, Dr. Anokye, explores the untold stories and accomplishments of African American men in Arizona. Dr. Anokye focuses on identifying the common threads of the African American community that have enriched and given meaning to their lives–striving for education/schooling, work lives, belonging, turning points, and legacies, established by such prominent folks as Dr. Eugene Grigsby, artist and ASU professor, George Greathouse, ASU football star and local barber, Judge Cecil B. Patterson, and Pastor Warren Stewart.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/ Southwest History | Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – African American Studies

Nanibaa Beck is a 2nd generation Diné (Navajo) jeweler. Since 2013, her work reflects Native creative expressions and the growth of an Diné ‘Asdzaa (Navajo woman) as a designer and maker. Being
intricately connected to the creative process at an early age motivated Beck to become more knowledgeable about the multifaceted areas surrounding Native American Art. Her anthropology background includes work and fellowships with renown museums, including the Heard Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Peabody Essex Museum and the Field Museum.

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Beyond the Kitsch: The Pervasive Spirit of our Indigenous Creative Community

Throughout the Southwest, tourists and locals encounter a range of Indigenous art, from manufactured and imported cultural appropriations to fine art in galleries and museums. The state’s creative Indigenous communities are sometimes lost in what is popularly featured as Native American Art. In this presentation, Diné jeweler Nanibaa Beck will highlight contemporary Native American Art, focusing on eclectic indigenous creatives throughout Arizona and beyond. Beck draws examples from her friends, family, and extended kin to demonstrate the diversity of artistic talents, mediums, and philosophical approaches of Indigenous artists. The presentation will leave participants with a better appreciation for the range of Native American creativity the state has to offer.

  • Presentation Category – Art/Art History | Culture, Gender & Identity Studies – Native American Studies

Carrie Calisay Cannon is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of
Oklahoma, and of Oglala Lakota and German ancestry. She has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and M.S. in Resource Management. By weekday she fills her days as a full-time Ethnobotanist with the Hualapai Indian Tribe of the Grand Canyon of Arizona. By weekend she is a lapidary and silversmith artist who enjoys chasing the beautiful as she creates Native southwestern turquoise jewelry. If you wish to connect with Carrie, you will need a fast horse.

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He Stands in the Sun: The Life, Legacy, & Art of Kiowa Artist T.C. Cannon

T.C. Cannon is considered one of the most talented Native American artists of the 20th century whose paintings continue to influence new generations of Native artists. As a natural born innovator and visionary Kiowa and Caddo tribal artist T.C. Cannon was a tour de force. His
talents as a poet, musician, and artist ended abruptly in 1978 at the age of 31 after a fateful car crash. Cannon utilized striking color combinations, bold juxtapositions, and artfully portrayed motifs, irony, and humor deeply rooted in his cultural heritage. “He Who Stands in the Sun” or Pai-doung-u-day is T.C. Cannon’s Kiowa Indian name. This presentation will explore T.C. Cannon’s life and heritage, and the depth of his art, skill, and paramount accomplishments as a
multitalented artist.

  • Presentation Category – Art/Art History | Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – Native American Studies

Award-winning author, historian, and lecturer Jan Cleere writes extensively about the desert southwest, particularly the people who first settled the territory. Magna cum laude graduate of ASU West with a degree is American Studies, Cleere is the author of six
historical nonfiction books about the people who first ventured west. She lectures around the state about early pioneers who were instrumental in colonizing and civilizing Arizona Territory. For over nine years, Jan has written a monthly column for Tucson’s Arizona
Daily Star newspaper — “Western Women” detailing the lives of Arizona’s early amazing women.

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Maria Urquides: Mother of Bilingual Education

Maria Urquides’ Hispanic background made her the ideal teacher for Arizona’s bilingual schools, although she readily admitted she might go to hell for being ordered to punish students for speaking Spanish in the classroom. She stepped on more than a few administrative toes to attain her goal of promoting bilingual/bicultural education to children of all backgrounds.
Urquides was a driving force in encouraging passage of the 1968 Bilingual Education Act which provides federal funds for students with limited English-speaking abilities. While the Act encouraged instruction in English, it also promoted multicultural awareness. Five U.S. Presidents appointed Urquides to national panels and conferences for children and education. She was a woman who made a definitive difference in the education of children of all races and ethnicities and is credited with being the single most effective force behind the implementation of bilingual education across the country.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History, Culture, Gender & Identity Studies – Women’s Studies

Jay Craváth is a composer, writer, and scholar in the field of music and Indigenous studies. He enjoys crafting programs from these fields into interactive discussions that include stories, musical performance, and illustrations. Cravath’s most recent album of original music is Songs for Ancient Days. A former music teacher and cultural director for both the Colorado River Indian and Chemehuevi Tribes, Cravath holds a Ph.D. from ASU in Humanities Education. He has written incidental music for documentaries and live commissions and served as an Arizona Humanities scholar and speaker for two decades. He was a National Endowment for the Humanities Teacher-Scholar. Cravath received the Arizona Humanities Public Scholar Award for his contributions to state educational and cultural organizations.

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Rivers of Dreams: Songs and Stories of Arizona’s Waterways

The Colorado, the Gila, the Salt, the Verde, the Hassayampa, the Santa Cruz: Arizona’s rivers were lush green ribbons of life flowing through a desert landscape. They became sustaining paths for indigenous traders and immigrants leaving wagon tracks and settlements. The Hohokam built vast canals from the Salt to direct irrigation water for crops. European farmers used these same trenches. The Mohave spread line villages along the Colorado—our great western Nile that is now in peril. The Gila provided sustenance for the Pima and passage for such adventurers as Father Garces and Olive Oatman. As Arizona’s only “National Wild and Scenic River,” the Verde is home to over 50 endangered species. Dr. Cravath weaves narrative, history, music, and images to share the stories of these vital resources..

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Environmental Humanities | Music

Registered Professional Archaeologist Allen Dart has worked in Arizona and New Mexico since 1975 for federal and state governments, private companies, and nonprofit organizations. He is the executive director of Tucson’s nonprofit Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, which he founded in 1993 to provide educational and scientific programs in archaeology, history, and cultures. Dart has received the Arizona Archaeological
Society’s Professional Archaeologist of the Year Award, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society’s Victor R. Stoner Award, the Arizona Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission Award in Public Archaeology, and other honors for his efforts to bring archaeology and history to the public.


Archaeology’s Deep Time Perspective on Environment and Sustainability

The deep time perspective that archaeology, geology, and related disciplines provide about natural hazards, environmental change, and societal development is often ignored when societies today make decisions affecting social sustainability and human safety. Studies of ancient peoples and natural events can help modern society deal with problems of environmental and social change, overpopulation, and sustainability. This presentation looks at the long-term effects of exposure to natural chemical hazards, ancient and modern agricultural techniques, and biological and geological records of past climate and natural disasters, to show the value of research in subject areas that are “beyond history.”

  • Presentation Category – Archaeology | Environmental Humanities
Southwestern Rock Calendars and Ancient Time Pieces

Native Americans in the US Southwest developed sophisticated skills in astronomy and predicting the seasons, centuries before non-Indigenous peoples entered the region. In this presentation, archaeologist Allen Dart discusses archaeological and ethnographic evidence of ancient astronomical and calendrical reckoning practices seen in petroglyphs, architecture, and settlement layouts in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, and interprets how these discoveries may relate to ancient Native American rituals.

  • Presentation Category – Archaeology

Thomas J. Davis is an historian, lawyer, and professor emeritus at Arizona State University, Tempe, where he taught U.S. constitutional and legal history. Dr. Davis also taught as a visiting professor of law at the ASU College of Law. He received his PhD in U.S. history from Columbia University in the City of New York and his JD cum laude from the University at Buffalo School of Law in New York. He has been an AZ Humanities Public Scholar Nominee and served as Arizona’s State Scholar for the 2020-21 Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, Museum on Main St. (MoMS), Smithsonian Institution, traveling exhibition. AZ Humanities bestowed on Dr.
Davis the 2021 Founder’s Community Partner Award, recognizing his work “to further public humanities through sustained collaboration and exemplary community outreach.”

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One Supreme Court: What and How Does the US Supreme Court Do What it Does

The Supreme Court United States (SCOTUS) in recent years has been in the news more than ever. Controversy and distrust accompany many of its major decisions to a degree that is driving a crisis in public confidence. SCOTUS “is suffering from a historic lack of trust and confidence,” Reporter Domenico Montanaro noted in a May 3, 2023, National Public Radio (NPR) news story. Yet beyond the headline takeaways, few in the public understand exactly what the Court does or how it operates. Reviewing the Court’s Constitutional mandate, how cases reach the Court for decision, and how the Court disposes of cases in its decisions contributes to understanding the Court and its power and role in the US federal structure.

  • Presentation Category – Humanities in Contemporary Issues | Jurisprudence/Justice Studies | U.S. History


Electing the President: Electoral College, Controversies, & Popular Voting

Popular voting is touted as a cornerstone of US governance. Since the nation’s beginning, voting rights issues have shaped America’s democratic processes. Ceaseless controversies have reflected an ongoing struggle over who should vote, and how, when, and where voters should vote. The presidential election cycle has tended to magnify controversies every four years over expanding or limiting voting and, particularly, over voting for the U.S. president, that combines popular voting with the Electoral College’s formal election of the president. Reviewing the Constitutional provisions and legal framework for US federal and presidential elections, invites us to reflect on how the US federal system works in qualifying voters and in directing the counting of the votes on which the nation’s government rests.

  • Presentation Category – Humanities in Contemporary Issues | U.S. History

Rosemarie Dombrowski (RD) is the inaugural Poet Laureate of
Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of rinky dink press, and the founding director of Revisionary Arts, a nonprofit that facilitates self-care and healing through poetry. Dr. Dombrowski has published three collections of poetry and is the recipient of a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, an Arts Hero award, and the Arizona Humanities Outstanding Speaker Award. In 2022, she gave a TEDx talk entitled “The Medicinal Power of Poetry.” Dr. Dombrowski is a teaching professor at Arizona State University and a professor of practice at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.


Disruption, Subversion, & Agency: A Brief History of Zines (virtual only)

This presentation explores the origins of zine culture – self-published, hand-bound, small- circulation publications that gave voice to historically marginalized populations – beginning with the fascicles of Emily Dickinson and the Little Magazines of the early 20th century, continuing through the Mimeo Poets of the mid-century to the punk phenomenon of the Riot Grrrls in the 90s. The presentation includes a DIY zine-making tutorial during which attendees will learn how to create their own micro-zines.

  • Presentation Category – Film & Media | Literature
The Poetry Pharmacy: Prescriptions for Compassion (virtual only)

This presentation explores ways in which we can process stress and grief, and how we might access self- and communal compassion, through poetry. It will highlight what’s called a “poetry pharmacy,” a tangible pharmacy that contains poetic prescriptions for wellness, hope, mindfulness, and more.

  • Presentation Category – Medical Humanities | Poetry

Dr. Betsy Fahlman, Arizona State University professor and museum curator, came to Arizona in 1988. Dr. Fahlman is a scholar of the art history of Arizona and the Southwest and an expert on early Arizona Anglo women artists, the subject of a book she is writing. A regionalist, Dr. Fahlman is fascinated by place and how Arizona artists are linked to a broad American cultural narrative.
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New Women/New Lives: Arizona Early Women Artists, 1900-1945

A range of factors attracted the earliest Anglo women artists to Arizona. Some sought sanctuary and solitude in the state’s geologically impressive landscapes, while others sought solace in the vast, spirit-lifting vistas they encountered at every turn. Others found that encounters with Native Americans caused them to question long-held colonialist stereotypes of “the other.” Still more sought the adventure and freedom that was abundant in the West. Women found inspiration in the grand spaces, spectacular geological formations, and abundant sky in the West as they redefined themselves in an atmosphere of intellectual, personal, and social freedom. Their interests in nature, women’s rights, and their experiences as “New Women” in Arizona, were transformative. This talk considers both resident artists, as well as visitors who challenged the strongly masculinist stereotypes of the American West generally, and of Arizona specifically.

  • Presentation Category – Art/Art History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Women’s Studies

Dan Fellner is an eight-time Fulbright fellow, university instructor and freelance travel writer/photographer. He has published over 150 travel articles in various magazines and newspapers around the world. His work has been featured in such publications as USA Today, The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Post and The Arizona Republic. In 1998 Fellner joined Arizona State University as a faculty associate and has taught courses in print and broadcast journalism, public relations, international mass media, intercultural communications, and travel writing. He is a faculty affiliate with ASU’s Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, and currently teaches courses in travel writing, Eastern Europe, Asia, unique Jewish communities, and river cruising for ASU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Fellner has received Fulbright Scholar grants to Latvia, Moldova, and Bulgaria; and Fulbright Specialist grants to Lithuania, Latvia, Indonesia, and North Macedonia (twice). Most recently, he was a Fulbright Specialist at Southeast European University in North Macedonia during the 2021 fall semester.
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The Jews of Sosua: An Inspirational Story of Holocaust Survival

It is one of the most uplifting – yet often forgotten – stories of Jewish survival during the Holocaust. In the early 1940s, the Dominican Republic was the only sovereign country to accept large numbers of Jewish refugees. About 750 German and Austrian Jews found a safe haven on an abandoned banana plantation in a town called Sosua on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast. Why did the Dominican Republic accept Jewish refugees when so many other countries turned their backs? As a travel journalist, Dan Fellner visited Sosua and interviewed original settlers. He observed firsthand the fascinating remnants of Jewish life in this unconventional colony that’s become known as “Tropical Zion.”

  • Presentation Category – World History

Angela Girón was the Program Director & Founding Faculty of the Master of Liberal Studies Program (MLSt) at Arizona State University. She developed numerous courses for the MLSt program with a strong focus on film content. Girón presented The Missing – Geriatric Female Sexuality in Film Content & Cinematography at the Film-Philosophy conference at St. Anne’s College, Oxford University, England and created a course on Film-Philosophy. Girón worked professionally in theatre and film out of Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, and Toronto. Among her many TV and film credits, is the role of Alice B. Toklas in the film, The Moderns directed by Alan Rudolph. She performed her play, Nitza – A Cuban Flavor, at the United Solo Festival in NYC. Girón is a long-time member of the Screen Actors Guild and a member of the ASU Faculty Women of Color Caucus. Her short fiction is featured in the anthology, Fearless – Women’s Journeys to Self-Empowerment. Since May of
2023, Girón is an ASU Clinical Assistant Professor Emerita.
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Somos Españoles: Inter-familial Racism in the American Southwest

This presentation explores the ongoing Eurocentric practice of intra-familial colorism in Hispanic families in the American Southwest and its colonial origins. How have media representations over the decades contributed to the practice of colorism? Are current immigration practices fueling a revival of colorism? How are Hispanic children affected by colorism? Through family folklore and common Spanish “dichos” (sayings), Angela Girón will examine how this practice negatively affects many families, including members of her own family. Girón will discuss what we as a community can do to eradicate colorism.

  • Presentation Category – Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Hispanic Studies

Chris and Sandy have been speaking about the land and people of the Colorado Plateau since 2012, after completing docent training at the Museum of Northern Arizona. In-depth research and related interviews have resulted in lectures to their fellow docents, local social and educational groups, and at public venues such as Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff. Some topics are presented in costumes of the time period, at some we serve food, and in every case with a thorough exploration of the events and personalities of the time from multiple points of view.

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The Vanishing Trading Posts

The stories of trading posts in the Southwest are a unique snapshot of life almost one hundred years ago. In the early 1900’s, trading posts in the Four corners flourished. There were over one hundred trading posts on the plateau, but today only five remain. Why did they vanish? The challenges and unexpected gifts of cross-cultural exchange are factors, as well as the social and economic changes on the reservation and across the country.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History

Matthew has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and has taught environmental ethics, media ethics, and technology and human values at Northern Arizona University, Coconino Community College, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Matthew recently participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar on extending Aldo Leopold’s “Land Ethic.” He is co-founder of Sedona Philosophy, which offers guided hikes and retreats in Sedona and northern Arizona.

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Being Human in the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene is the name scientists have proposed for the geological epoch that we are currently in, when humans have become a significant driving force shaping Earth’s climate, ecosystems, and biodiversity. We may now be on the cusp of a revolution in computing and robotics in an era of artificial intelligence that raises a question: if machines can replace us, then what should humans do? In this presentation we will discuss what it means to be human in a time when the world increasingly reflects to us our own creations and impacts.

  • Presentation Category – Environmental Humanities | Philosophy
Getting Deeper into the Grand Canyon and Other Natural Wonder

Why are we drawn to such places as the Grand Canyon? Why are people moved to travel from all around the world to visit and explore them? In this presentation, we will discuss people’s relationship with the natural landscape with a particular focus on some of Arizona’s most iconic locations. What are the ethical implications of our encounters with these natural wonders?
What can philosophy teach us about the interaction between humanity, beauty, and sublime nature?

  • Presentation Category – Environmental Humanities | Philosophy

As a sculptor, muralist, storyteller and performance artist Zarco has dedicated his career to creating positive social change through the arts. Born in Arizona, he has been instrumental in the development of Latino Arts statewide. His art has been exhibited in Mexico and throughout the United States. He has received international acclaim, and awards, such as a National Endowment for the Arts Japan Fellowship, a Governor’s Arts Award, a Zony Award, became the Southwest Folklife Alliance Master Artist, and has been awarded grants for artistic projects by The Doris Duke Foundation, Valley Metro and Arizona Community Foundation. Visit

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Cantando con Tata

The life and music of an Arizona Legend! Lalo Guerrero, a Mexican American singer-songwriter from Tucson, is considered the Godfather of Chicano Music. He was a Grammy award winner and received the Presidential Medal of Honor for his contribution to Arts and Culture in the US by President Clinton. Join Zarco for a program about Lalo Guerrero and his impact on Chicano music today.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Music
Dia de los Muertos Storytelling

Dia de Los Muertos is a highly celebrated and significant holiday held throughout Mexico, Latin America, and the Southwest. It is a day when homage is paid with prayers, offerings of food and the building of altars to those who have gone before us. Join Guerrero and his unique masked characters as they celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with hilarious and moving storytelling, turning stereotypes on their heads. Among the characters making appearances are the poetry spouting “El Vato Poeta,” the flirtatious “La Comadre,” the wise “El Abuelito,” and other beloved characters that Guerrero, a prolific playwright, has created to express the humor and sadness of our lives. Guerrero’s storytelling puts life into perspective in a delightful and engaging way, helping us accept and even laugh at our most primal fears about death.

  • Presentation Category – Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Hispanic Studies | Storytelling & Folklore

Win Holden was named the sixth Publisher of Arizona Highways Magazine in May 2000. The publication is recognized as one of the finest travel magazines in the world. The magazine has over 120,000 subscribers in all 50 states and 100 countries. As Publisher, Mr. Holden led a diverse group of businesses centered on the world-renowned magazine including licensing, book publishing, calendars, e- commerce, new product development, product marketing and retailing. A Valley resident since 1980, Mr. Holden was recognized by the Arizona Office of Tourism and the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association as their 2017 and 2018 Lifetime Award recipient and received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Business Journal. He was the 2007 inductee into the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame.

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100 Years Grand – The Story of Arizona Highways Magazine

April 2025 will mark Arizona Highways magazine’s 100th birthday. How did a brochure produced by the Arizona Highway Department become one of the most revered travel publications in the world? How has Arizona Highways remained relevant for a century while other national magazines have failed? Former Arizona Highways Publisher, Win Holden, will share the inside story of how this extraordinary publication has not only survived but thrived by attracting elite landscape photographers and using an unconventional publishing business model incorporating licensing, retailing and ancillary products. The presentation features dozens of historical and contemporary photographs telling the compelling story of a magazine that delivers over $65 million in annual economic impact to the state by captivating subscribers in all 50 states and 100 countries.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History, Film and Media

Björn Krondorfer is Regents’ Professor and the Director of the Martin-Springer Institute at Northern Arizona University. As Endowed Professor of Religious Studies, he also teaches in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies. His field of expertise is religion/gender/culture and (post-) Holocaust and reconciliation studies. He received a Senior Research Fellowship at the Vrije University in Amsterdam and held visiting faculty positions in Germany and South Africa. He is currently the VP of the Association for Public Religion and Intellectual Life; in 2020 he became chair of the Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies.

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Jewish Women’s Resilience, Resistance, and Survival in the Holocaust

This presentation traces the lives of two women Holocaust survivors who both grew up in traditional Jewish families in Bedzin, Poland and later became residents of Arizona: Jane Lipski (Tucson) and Doris Martin (Flagstaff). They managed to survive the Nazi onslaught as adolescent girls. While Jane was able to escape the ghetto and join the resistance movement in Slovakia, Doris was sent to Auschwitz and selected for labor at a women’s camp near the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. While Doris was liberated in 1945 by the advancing Soviet forces and ended up in a Displaced Person Camp in Germany, Jane was arrested by the Soviets as a suspected spy and remained in captivity in Soviet labor camps until 1947. Dr. Krondorfer will introduce the complex history of the Holocaust through the lives of women like Doris and Jane, with particular attention to their resourcefulness in the struggle so to survive.

  • Presentation Category – Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies | U.S. & World History
The Rise of Antisemitism and Nazi Propaganda

In June of 2021, Holocaust education became a required subject in Arizona public middle and high schools, making space for a discussion on the rise of antisemitic propaganda in 20th century Germany. This presentation will begin with a brief look at the early stages of antisemitic messaging in the 1890s, 09’s and WWI into the 1920s. Moving along chronologically the timeline, crude political satire can be traced through legal sanction and (pseudo-) scientific justifications. The presentation also touches on the Nazi policy of “Lebensraum” (living space), in which race and space ideologies paved the way for the eventual genocidal campaign against European Jews.

  • Presentation Category – Humanities in Contemporary Issues | U.S. & World History

John Mack is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a master’s degree in Russian history and a Ph.D. in American history. His book on the settlement of southeast Kansas, Bucking the Railroads on the Kansas Frontier: the struggle over land claims by homesteading Civil Veterans, 1867-1876, was published by McFarland Press in 2012. Dr. Mack has published multiple peer- reviewed articles on aspects of both Russian and US history.

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The Selling of the Grand Canyon: the Santa Fe, Harvey Company and the El Tovar

This presentation discusses the significance of the American Southwest in the early 20th
century when national attention shifted to the canyons and deserts of the American Southwest. Although American scientists, artists, writers, fur traders, and explorers had been visiting the Southwest since the early 19th century, the arrival of the railroads eased access which in turn increased interest in both the natural and human history of the region. This presentation discusses the efforts of William Haskell Simpson (representing the Railroad) and the Harvey Company to coordinate, sustain, and profit from American interest in the region by building and then promoting the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon. Together the Railroad and Harvey Company played a pivotal role in creating the dominant mythology of the American Southwest.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History
Hiking into the Past: The Sierra Ancha Cliff Dwellings

This presentation examines the remarkable living structures built by the people who first lived in the canyons of the Sierra Ancha wilderness during the early Middle Ages. The architectural dwellings reflect the culture and history of these people and help us understand their
contributions to life in the Arizona desert. The presentation includes numerous photos from Mack’s expeditions.

  • Arizona/Southwest History | Environmental Humanities

Historian Jay Mark’s career includes antiques & bookstore owner, commercial photography, professional theater, radio, and television broadcaster. His background, knowledge and experience contribute to his lively and engaging presentations. A regular contributor of history- related articles to the Antique Register; Arizona Contractor & Community, and The Arizona
Republic, Jay is also a published writer of seven antiques-related books. He is co-author of a history of The Buckhorn Baths in Mesa. Mark has received numerous awards honoring his
service to the community, including the Governor’s Heritage award of the Arizona Preservation Foundation, and the State Historic Preservation Office. Mark remains actively engaged in issues relating to historic preservation, history museums, urban planning, and public policy.

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Jerome – Too Stubborn to Die – How the Town Survived Numerous “Near-Death” Experiences

Numerous fires, landslides, floods, labor strikes, polluted air, epidemics, Depression, recessions, financial collapse, one adversity after another. Any one of these might spell the end of a lesser community. But, in Arizona, one town survived these “near-death” experiences, and more; yet managed to survive. Some might even say, “thrive.” This presentation looks at the numerous disasters, tragedies and setbacks Jerome faced in its first ¾ century. And still come out on top. From the time in prehistory when the Sinagua’s mined copper for decoration and ornamentation, to the Spanish exploring for gold and silver, to the modern discoveries of copper riches all within Cleopatra Hill, Jerome exploded to the 4th largest city in Arizona. Less than half-a-century later, its numbers had dwindled to 243. How Jerome remade itself from a major mining center into a tourist-filled, living Ghost Town is a fascinating tale that features many seldom images.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History

Gregory McNamee is a prolific writer, editor, photographer, and publisher. He is the author of forty-five books and numerous articles and other publications. McNamee is a contributing editor to the Encyclopædia Britannica and a research fellow at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona. For more information visit McNamee’s web page at

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Seeing the Desert

Most Arizonans are not originally from Arizona, and most come from places that are far greener and milder of climate than our desert. For many of us, it takes a shift of eye and of attitude to appreciate this hot, dry place—but once it gets into one’s soul, there’s nowhere like it. This talk explains that transformation, drawing on the work of poets such as Joy Harjo, Richard Shelton, and Ofelia Zepeda; novelists such as Barbara Kingsolver and Edward Abbey, nonfiction writers such as Joseph Wood Krutch and Mary Austin, and much more, from Native American folktales to modern scientific insights, all accompanied by a rich slide show full of art and photography. With insights from literature, philosophy, art, neurology, and other fields, Gregory McNamee will discuss how we can learn to see the desert as a place of abundant life, abundant beauty, and abundant possibilities for happiness.

  • Presentation Category – Environmental Humanities | Literature
Cochise, Geronimo, and the Apache Wars

Their names resound in Arizona history and pepper the of the state map, but few people know well the tangled history that surrounds the so-called “Apache Wars”, when fully half of the active U.S. Army descended on the territory to combat a relative handful of Indigenous warriors. Ironically, the Apache peoples of the Southwest had once welcomed the arrival of the Americans as a buffer against Mexico, which regularly attached Apache settlements—but then American miners and loggers began to encroach, and a defensive war turned into a terrible guerrilla campaign that lasted a quarter-century. In this talk, Gregory McNamee, who has written about the Apache Wars for Encyclopaedia Britannica and other publications, unravels the complex story of the conflict and the decades of uneasy peace that followed.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History

Following a career as an English professor, Jim McWilliams retired in May 2018 and moved to Tucson. His teaching and research focused on modern British and American literature. Since his retirement, Dr. McWilliams has spent his time taking courses, primarily in anthropology and archeology, and volunteering.

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The Middle Passage in Literature and Film: Africans, Slavery, and the New World

The Middle Passage, the transportation of Africans into slavery in the New World, is one of the most significant episodes in American history. To understand that significance, we’ll begin with historical background and then focus on Robert Hayden’s poem “Middle Passage” (1962) and Charles Johnson’s novel Middle Passage (1991), as well look at a few representations in film such as Roots (1977, 2016). Until we understand our past, we can’t understand our present, which means examining the painful questions about the origins of slavery in the lands that would become the United States.

  • Presentation Category – Literature | U.S. & World History
Learning to Live Together: Martin Luther King Jr. and His Philosophy of the Beloved Community

One of the most important concepts in Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings is the idea of “the beloved community,” the possibility of a society in which people from diverse backgrounds and
economic circumstances learn to live together. Conflict in any society, he taught, is inevitable, but it can be resolved through non-violence and a commitment toward equal justice. This
presentation will explore MLK’s ideas through the works of Charles Johnson, the National Book Award-winning novelist, who has written extensively about MLK and his philosophy. Together we will consider Johnson’s novel Dreamer (1998), which presents a fictionalized account of King’s summer in Chicago in 1966, and his short story “Dr. King’s Refrigerator” (2005), which imagines a midnight snack in 1954 for the man who was about to lead a Civil Rights revolution..

  • Presentation Category – Literature

Dr. Mary Melcher, public historian, completed her Ph.D. in American history at Arizona State University in 1994, with fields in the twentieth century, women’s history, and the West. Dr. Melcher has worked as a curator in various museums and as a public history consultant. She was the lead historian for the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail, a public history project combining women’s history with interpretation of historic sites. Dr. Melcher has conducted over 150 oral histories and published numerous articles in historical journals. She has a strong interest in women’s history in relation to reproduction. In 2012, she published Pregnancy, Motherhood and Choice in Twentieth Century Arizona with the University of Arizona Press.

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Dr. Pearl Tang: Path Breaker in Public Health

In 1960, Dr. Pearl Mao Tang became chief of the Maricopa County Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. A Chinese American, who had fought to obtain a medical license in Arizona, Tang was instrumental in lowering the infant mortality rate in the state’s most populous county. Working in the Phoenix metropolitan area and rural Maricopa Country, Dr. Tang dedicated her career to improving the health of mothers and children. Her work, and that of public health nurses, aided families in migrant farm camps and impoverished urban areas. Dr. Tang became a very effective leader in public health, and her work impacted thousands of Arizonans. This presentation explores Tang’s career, as well as historical conditions in Arizona which made her work so vital and needed.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Asian American Studies
Arizona’s Birth Control Movement: Providing Contraceptives to Rural and Urban Women

Today, women’s ability to control their reproduction through use of contraception is taken for granted. But this is a fairly recent phenomenon. Birth control was illegal in the U.S. until 1936. Before birth control was legalized, a lively birth control movement developed in Arizona,initiated by Margaret Sanger and volunteers in Tucson and Phoenix. Working with upper middle- class women, including Maie Heard, founder of Heard Museum, and Peggy Goldwater, wife of Barry Goldwater, Sanger publicized family planning and opened clinics. Others also provided contraceptives, including Farm Security Administration nurses who distributed birth control to the racially and ethnically diverse women working in Arizona migrant camps. In addition, a Catholic priest, Father Emmett McLoughlin, provided contraceptives in south Phoenix through St. Monica’s Clinic. The work of these varied individuals gave women greater control over their reproductive lives. This talk provides historical context related to birth control, while also exploring racial and class issues related to the topic.

  • Presentation Category –Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Women’s Studies | Medical Humanities

Brendan H. O’Connor is a linguist and anthropologist who works on issues of language, identity, schooling, and immigration. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is an associate professor in the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University. His book Multilingual Baseball was published by Bloomsbury in May 2023.

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Multilingual Baseball: Language and Identity across Borders

Transnational baseball is a microcosm of globalizing societies around the world, inviting audiences to consider what we can learn from the bilingual understandings and misunderstandings that arise in everyday interactions. This presentation shares the voices of players, coaches, front office personnel, international scouts, language teachers, and interpreters, with experience in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States.

  • Presentation Category – Language | U.S. & World History

Dr. Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan is Tohono O’odham and from the San Xavier District. She serves as faculty in the Tohono O’odham Studies Program at Tohono O’odham Community College. Dr. Ramon-Sauberan also serves as the Tohono O’odham Nation Education Development Liaison for Kitt Peak National Observatory.  She earned her PhD in American Indian Studies with a minor in Journalism at the University of Arizona in May 2023. Her research focused on the history of land and water in the San Xavier District and she has written for news publications across the US including Indian Country Today. 

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Caretakers of the Land: A Story of Farming and Community in San Xavier

Farming has always been the way of life for the Tohono O’odham community in San Xavier, located just south of Tucson. Their way of life depended on access to the land and to the water, namely the Santa Cruz River, which nourished agriculture in the area for generations. But a history of division sown through government land allotments and land development plans, coupled with the declining flow of the Santa Cruz, fractured community farming. How did the community come together to revitalize the land for future generations? What lessons can we learn from their story? Join Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan for a program about land, water, and community in San Xavier.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – Native American Studies | Environmental Humanities
Growing in the Desert: The History & Culture of the Tohono O’odham

Many Arizonans call the Sonoran Desert and its striking landscapes home. Long before our urban centers and city lights lit up the dark desert skies, the Tohono O’odham were cultivating and shaping the land with abundant agriculture—from squash and beans to corn and cotton. For generations they passed down their rich knowledge and culture grown from their connection to the desert. Join us for a program with Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan as she shares her knowledge about the history and culture of her people, the Tohono O’odham.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – Native American Studies

Christine Reid’s interest in Arizona’s diverse and rich western heritage developed and grew as a writer and researcher with the Pinal County Historical Museum and later as Community Scholar for the Anthem at
Merrill Ranch continuing education program. Reid is committed to sharing the sometimes hidden or forgotten aspects of Arizona’s characters and history. Reid shares Arizona’s history in a relatable and engaging manner.

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The History and Mystery of the Gila River

Many people know about Arizona’s most famous river, the Colorado, but the often-forgotten Gila River has a rich and interesting history too. Reid will take the audience on a journey which begins in central New Mexico and joins the Gila River as it makes an historical journey through eastern and most of southern Arizona before joining the Colorado River. This program explores the geology that formed the Gila and the dinosaurs that splashed in it. You’ll learn about the history of prehistoric people who mastered and relied on the river. The human side of the Gila is brought to life through personal memoirs, field journals and anecdotes of the missionaries, explorers, and adventurers who followed it, to the pioneers who settled alongside it. The Gila River provided life giving water for agriculture, transportation, recreation, and inspiration for generations of people.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Environmental Humanities
Arizona Snake Oil Salesmen, Scams, and Hoaxes

Entrepreneurs offering assorted “get rich quick” schemes and “cure-alls” have visited Arizona since the early days. Benefitting from tales of abundant resources in the territory, limited law enforcement and communication, a scoundrel could create enticing promises of wealth and health without much external oversight. Newspapers often fanned the hysteria only to later denounce and expose the same schemes. People from across America came west to seek a better life. When that better life proved too slow in materializing, they often fell prey to quick and easy alternatives being offered by schemers. Sometimes even the well-educated and worldly could not resist the lure, despite later admitting they should have known better. This program illustrates through newspaper articles, quotes, photographs and ephemera, some of the most famous, and some of the lesser-known, embarrassing scams and hoaxes that have found gullible Arizonans.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History

Jose Rodriguez is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He joined the Navy in 1985 where he volunteered to serve on nuclear submarines for ten years. He spent his last seven years in the Navy as a recruiter manager. After retiring from the Navy in 2007, Jose worked for the Boy Scouts of America for eleven years where he served in many exciting roles. He now works for the American Red Cross as a Regional Director serving the Armed Forces and our international community. He is passionate about serving the military and helping our international friends who seek our help when they are displaced out of their countries because of war and other humanitarian crises. Jose holds a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from American Military University and is a volunteer with the American Legion and LAMA: Latin American Motorcycle Association.


Even War Has Rules: The Red Cross and International Humanitarian Law

What are the rules of war? Why do they matter? The rules of war, or international humanitarian law, set out what can and cannot be done during an armed conflict. The Geneva Conventions, now adopted by the United States and every other nation, are the cornerstone of international humanitarian law. How do they safeguard human life and dignity in times of war? Join us for a conversation with the American Red Cross to learn about the basic limits to war, who is protected, and the role of the Red Cross during armed conflict.

Tamika Sanders started her company Savvy Pen to provide interactive programs that incorporate arts learning and multicultural training to bridge cultural and socioeconomic divides between educators and students. Her work brings diverse real-world perspectives to programming initiatives and creates strategic community partnerships that can generate revenue and provide access to resources and opportunities for marginalized groups. In 2009, Dr. Sanders collaborated with the Bi-National Arts Residency (BNAR), which connects cultural communities in the Sonoran Desert on issues of social justice and identity through art. Dr. Sanders hopes to continue using the arts to break barriers, unite people, and create social change.

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Coded Messages and Songs of the Underground Railroad

Communication and secrecy were key to the successful operation of the Underground Railroad. Safety was more important than quickness. Both fugitive slaves and members of the Underground Railroad learned to code and decode hidden messages, and to disguise signs to avoid capture. There were code names for towns on the routes and code numbers for towns. There were signs and songs. A quilt hanging on a clothesline with a house and a smoking chimney among its designs indicated a safe house. The song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd” served as directions to Canada. Using storytelling, activities and songs, Dr. Sanders depicts the ingenuity and resiliency of those who used the Underground Railroad to help over 100,000 slaves escape to freedom between 1810 and 1850.

  • Presentation Category – Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – African American Studies | U.S. History
Black Wall Street: Then and Now

Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood district was coined “Black Wall Street” because it was a thriving African American community that boosted hospitals, churches, shopping centers, schools, and banks. But all that changed, on May 31, 1921, when an angry mob stormed the town and burned everything to the ground. This presentation will explore what made Black Wall Street so important, the actions that brought the city to its demise, and the complicated truth about what actually happened on that brutal day, that make it worth reinvestigating!

  • Presentation Category – Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – African American Studies | U.S. History

Kevin Schindler is the historian at Lowell Observatory, where he has worked for 28 years as an active member of the Flagstaff history and science communities. Schindler has given more than 1,000
presentations and written more than 600 magazine and newspaper articles on subjects ranging from local history and astronomy to baseball and the Lincoln Memorial, and contributes a bi-weekly astronomy column, “View from Mars Hill”, for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper. Schindler has written nine books, including Historic Tales of Flagstaff (written with Mike Kitt). Fun fact: Kevin has both a fossil crab and asteroid named after him.

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Dark Skies over Arizona

There’s nothing like standing under a dark, star-spangled night sky to quiet the mind and reduce stress, share an experience of awe with family and friends, and to inspire creative thoughts. Yet such dark skies are a disappearing resource, with only 20% of the world living in a place where the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is visible. Arizona knows a thing or two about this problem and has played a leading role in reducing artificial light pollution. This program will look at the benefits of dark skies, how Arizona has helped lead the charge to protect them, and how we all can do our part in reducing artificial light pollution.

  • Presentation Category – Environmental Humanities

An Emmy nomination for sharing Arizona history is just the latest
recognition for Marshall Shore, Arizona’s Hip Historian. His passion is uncovering the weird, the wonderful, and the obscure treasures from our past: the semi-forgotten people, places, and events that have made us who we are today. Shore uses storytelling magic, found film footage, old photographs, ephemera, and artifacts to bring our state’s heritage to life in entertaining and educational presentations. He has developed an almost cult-like following for sharing history through in- person and virtual events.

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LGBT+: A History in Arizona

Arizona’s history of the LGBT+ community begins long before Arizona was a state with the Native American belief of two-spirits and continues through to the seismic shift of Civil Union/ Marriage Equality. There are some surprises along the way such as artists and Arizona connections to Warhol, Keith Haring, and those muscle magazines by George Quaintance. Where was the Trans Flag created and where is it now? There is also the little-known story of a 1906 Russian gender pioneer named Nicolai De Raylan.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender & Identity Studies – LGBTQ+
 Arizona’s Vintage Signs: Lighting the Future

Arizona has become a hotbed of preserving vintage signage and neon. No wonder, with the rise of Arizona and automobile travel in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Thousands of people were traversing the broad expanses of highways and byways across the Southwest. As the cars sped past, restaurants, motels, curio shops and gas stations needed large, bright signs to make an impression. This informative and entertaining visual presentation explores the social significance of the rise of commercial neon signs, and references the designers whose signs became iconic. What efforts are afoot to save our signage history.

  • Art/Art History | Film & Media

Dr. Lamont A. Slater is a historian and researcher with a focus on African and African American literature, history, and culture. Dr. Slater’s work has been influenced by his lived experience in Kitzigen, Germany, and his research surrounding the Black experience in the German Holocaust. His specialization focuses on African genocide, memorialization, and memory. Dr. Slater analyzes the long-term effects of genocide in German Southwest Africa
(Namibia) and Rwanda and how the intersectionality of cross- cultural issues such as colonialism, inclusivity, race, and class contribute to some of today’s challenges. He enjoys examining comparative literature between South African and African
American literature. Dr. Slater is the current Chair of Humanities at Rio Salado College. He has lived and worked in Windhoek, Namibia and Cape Town, South Africa for four years while teaching with Augsburg University’s Center for Global Education. Dr. Slater loves the mission of HBCUs and is a proud graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, GA. He has a Master’s in Humanities/Literature from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX and PhD from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI.

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Before the Holocaust: The Namibian Genocide and Colonial Legacy

This presentation gives a brief overview of the Namibian genocide and details the initial reasons for German incursion into the area. The presentation also covers techniques and technologies that were used during this genocide that would eventually be used by the Germans during the Holocaust. These historic events speak about the lasting legacy and impact of genocide, and why it is important for those actually involved in the conflict to tell the story of what happened.

  • Presentation Category – U.S. & World History

Rodo Sofranac spent his first few years in a tiny village called Rijeka Crnojevića, Montenegro—former Yugoslavia. His family fled to Austria and later immigrated to the United States. He speaks, reads, and writes Serbo-Croatian and German. Interestingly, the Montenegrin connection brought Sofranac to Arizona in 1974. This diversity of cultures and languages has inspired Sofranac to read, write, and enjoy sharing stories. As a teacher, translator, mentor, and community organizer, he has worked with people of all ages— from birth to over 100—and in numerous settings, including over 30 years at the university level. Sofranac‘s award-wining work embraces varied storytelling, the latest being nine fun children’s books.


Take A Hike! Explore, Enhance, and Experience Your Understanding of Arizona

There are only eleven designated national scenic trails in the United States. Our Grand Canyon State has one of them—the Arizona National Scenic Trail! In this discussion, participants will have opportunities to: explore the history of the creation of Arizona’s greatest volunteer project; enhance their knowledge of Arizona’s diverse geography, animals, plants, and especially people—from the first, to the newest Americans, to the global travelers and, as we were reminded of the physical environment’s value to human existence, experience and sustain all or part of one of Arizona’s greatest resources, the Arizona Trail.

  • Presentation Category – Environmental Humanities

Yolanda Hart Stevens is an enrolled member of the Gila
River Indian Community, Pee-Posh/Quechan, and currently resides in the village of Komatke, AZ. Hart Stevens is a successful artist and community activist, performing at notable events such as Super Bowl XLII, The National Congress of the American Indian, and serving in highly-regarded positions such as the Smithsonian Institution American Community Scholar and a member of the Kennedy Center for Arts and Education. As an artist in residence at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and as a teacher of beadwork, she has developed programs to promote a clearer understanding of the people of the Southwest through their history, clothing, and decoration. She teaches a variety of beading techniques, including lazy stitch, edging and peyote stitch at various locals throughout the valley. Hart Stevens is passionate about maintaining a dialogue with her elders, contributing her skill of beadwork, and sharing the given knowledge with her family and young people. She is actively participating in training from Yuman tribal elders.

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Connections to Holistic Material: Native Culture Today and Tomorrow

From birth to death, the mesquite tree is an integral part of life for many who call the desert home. The mesquite tree is just one of many holistic materials, elements of our natural
environment, that are vital to sustaining Native culture and practices. But climate change and environmental degradation are changing the landscapes of Arizona. From the lack of water resources to the loss of mesquite trees, the future is uncertain. Join us for a program about water, land, and the environmental challenges impacting Native communities.

  • Presentation Category – Art/Art History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Native American Studies | Environmental Humanities
Indigenous Signs and Symbols: Pee-Posh/Kwatsan

Native Americans in the U.S. are diverse, and their contributions have enriched our lives in countless ways. People do not always realize the origins of Native contributions to the language, culture, and traditions of the U.S. What are Native signs and symbols? What do they mean? Where do they appear? They can represent animals and appear in petroglyphs, attire and much, much more. Explore the traditions and history of the Pee-Posh/Kwatsan. Learn about the signs and symbols which have been passed down for generations, and the meaning of tattoos and markings for this tribe.

  • Presentation Category – Art/Art History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Native American Studies

Dr. Pamela Stewart—historian, educator, and consultant with learning design expertise—has over 20 years of experience teaching wide-ranging history courses to non-majors at ASU and in public-facing contexts, including 55+ audiences and public art tours and educational presentations at Phoenix Art Museum. Retiring from ASU in 2022, her non-traditional academic career path has played a significant role in advocating the “doing” of history in ways that show the relevance and inclusive nature of thinking historically to address current challenges. She seeks to expand awareness of the fact that if we don’t know the history, we can’t solve the problem.

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The History Matters: Yours Too!

Reasons exist for why people do not look to history to address today’s challenges. Yet actively engaging in historical thinking can reveal tools for solving problems faster and with greater success. Even as personal history can matter and the presentation is useful for those interests, this is not an introduction to genealogy class. The interactive, question-based presentation encourages attendees to share experiences that allow for new starting points for learning and reflection—and creating change. The class introduces how harnessing history to solve today’s problems works. It also shows how “doing” a bit of history can help us understand our own value in creating change, open up possibilities for creatively moving forward, and lead towards resolving problems, whether on a small or much larger scale.

  • Presentation Category – Humanities in Contemporary Issues

A native of the Adirondacks of New York, Natalie J. Stewart-Smith’s multi-faceted careers included military service and education, from the elementary to college levels. Stewart-Smith’s research primarily addresses women in the military and as military aviators. Stewart-Smith is a Professor Emeritus of English, Director, Reading Programs and Writing Center at New Mexico Military Institute. She received her MA in History from Washington State University and M.Ed. in Reading Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

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Flying through Arizona: The Story of the First National Women’s Air Race

In 1929, the first national women’s air race from Santa Monica, California to Cleveland, Ohio passed through Arizona. Stopping in Yuma, Phoenix, and Douglas, the intrepid fliers solidified their determination and sisterhood along these Arizona waypoints. Who were these aviators? What were their planes like in 1929? What challenges did they encounter along the way? And what about that telegram sent to pilot Thea Rasche, “Beware of sabotage”? There is much to explore!

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Women’s Studies
Box Cars to Jets: First Fifty Years of Arizona Aviation

Arizonans quickly embraced the aviation advances of the early 1900s. Whether for fun, adventure, or science, they made their own planes and soared, sometimes with rough landings. The adventure, the science, the opportunity, and even the unknown drew Arizonans into the skies. And they accomplished much! Take a flight through history with Natalie Stewart-Smith.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History

Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Sleepy Rock people clan born for the Bitter Water people clan and is the daughter of a Navajo Code Talker. A librettist and an award-winning poet, she has written three books of poetry, edited two books, and written an oral history book on the Navajo Code Talkers. Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, world premiered for the Phoenix Symphony and her latest libretto, Nahasdzaan in the Glittering World was performed in France in 2019 and 2021. Among her awards are the 2020 Academy of American Poetry Fellowship; 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers Award; and the Arizona Book Association’s Glyph Award for Best Poetry. Tohe is Professor Emerita with Distinction from Arizona State University and is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate.

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Talking Code with a Secret Weapon: Navajo Code Talkers Speak

During WWII a group of young Navajo men enlisted in the Marines unaware that they would develop a secret code against the Japanese military. This select group of Code Talkers devised a Navajo language code that was accurate, quick, never broken, and saved many American lives. Excerpts from live interviews with the Code Talkers tell their stories before, during, and after the war that reflect their resiliency and their service to the U.S., a country that once tried to erase Navajo identity and language in the schools. Without fanfare the Code Talkers returned home to continued poverty and lack of opportunity and yet persevered. They overcame obstacles that helped change the Navajo Nation and their communities. Over twenty years passed after their discharge before Code Talkers were honored for their service by U.S. Presidents and the Navajo Nation.

  • Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Native American Studies

Arizona Historical Society’s beloved historian, Jim Turner, has worked with more than seventy local history museums. He co-authored the 4th-grade textbook The Arizona Story, and his pictorial history, Arizona: Celebration of the Grand Canyon State, was a 2012 Southwest Books of the Year selection. Turner moved to Tucson in 1951, earned an MA in U.S. history in 1999, and has been teaching Arizona history for 47 years. His numerous books include: The Mighty Colorado from the Glaciers to the Gulf (2016), Four Corners USA: Wonders of the American Southwest (2018), and Arizona: A History of the Grand Canyon State (2021).

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Arizona Humanitarians: Healthcare, Education, and Civil Rights Champions

Humanitarians have dedicated their lives to Arizona since 1691. Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Kino healed the sick, introduced new foods, and gave Native Americans livestock and taught them how to raise it. Nellie Cashman, “The Miners’ Angel,” raised funds to build
hospitals in mining camps from Alaska to Arizona; Oliver Comstock cared for tubercular patients in Tucson and raised funds to build a free hospital for the indigent. Maria Luisa Urquides taught in Tucson public schools for fifty years, served as advisor on education policies to five U.S. presidents, and became the “Mother of Bilingual Education.” Tuskegee Airman Lincoln Ragsdale was a Phoenix civil rights leader in school desegregation and housing discrimination; Annie Dodge Wauneka served as head of the Navajo Nation Council’s Health and Welfare Committee for thirty years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Doctorate in Humanities from the University of New Mexico. Learn about the people whose humanitarian efforts helped shape Arizona.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History
Arizona Water Use from Prehistory to the Present

This presentation covers humankind’s water use and food supply interactions with Arizona’s
ecology from Clovis culture hunter-gatherers to prehistoric irrigation canals, contemporary Hopi and Tohono O’odham dry farming, and present-day American farmers. We will examine how overhunting and climate change affected the wooly mammoth populations and the agriculture experiments that followed. From early attempts to increase the growth of wild plants to some the earliest irrigation canal projects in North America the Southwest’s indigenous people developed methods to survive the regions’ harsh climate. The Hopi and Tohono O’odham cultures not only altered their physical environment but developed a cultural belief system that espoused frugality and harmony with their natural surroundings. This presentation also describes major water use legislation over more than three centuries.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Environmental Humanities

Scott Warren lives in Ajo, Arizona where he works as an academic geographer. His research, teaching, and experience is at the intersection of people and place in the broad Mexico-U.S. borderland. The landscapes of Arizona and the continental southwest inspire his work.

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Thinking About the American Southwest

For many of us, the American Southwest is distinctive because of its landscape, culture, and history. We see, for instance, its mountains, deserts, and canyons. We are aware of its diverse cultures. And we have some understanding of the Indigenous, Mexican, and U.S. histories that have brought us to the present moment. But a careful examination of these taken-for-granted features reveals that there is more than meets the eye. Beneath this surface we find that the American Southwest is as much a product of the imagination as it is a geographical fact. In this presentation we take insights from the field of cultural geography to consider how the Southwest came to be a distinctive region both on the ground and in our minds, and we question whether these distinctive landscapes conceal as much as they reveal about our southwestern society.

  • Presentation Category – Borderland & Immigration | Humanities in Contemporary Issues
Border Geography: Key Context from the Arizona-Mexico Boundary

The boundary that separates Arizona from Mexico extends 354 miles across land and 24 miles up the Colorado River. Arizona shares this boundary with two Mexican states and two Native
American Reservations. Eight ports-of-entry and six sets of border town pairs create important points of contact. Efforts to conserve land, manage urban growth, create resilient economies, and share water resources extend across the border and these multiple jurisdictions. These days our attention to the border is preoccupied with the issues of immigration and drugs, but there is much more to this important place that is worth knowing. In this presentation we apply a
geographical lens to the Arizona-Mexico boundary and focus in on issues of land use,
economics, security, and water. In doing so we create a basic framework that should be helpful to anyone who wants to explore the Arizona-Mexico borderland region for themselves.

  • Presentation Category – Borderland & Immigration | Humanities in Contemporary Issues

Bernard Wilson is an independent researcher, who began his humanities research as part of a personal genealogical investigation into his family. He has spent the past twenty-seven years researching Tucson’s African-American pioneers and community. His first book, The Black Residents of Tucson and Their Achievements: A Reference Guide, exposed that Tucson had a large and thriving African- American community that included mining millionaires. His subsequent publications derived from the research for his book. Currently, his research focuses on the individual lives of the Old Pueblo’s African-Americans.


They Did More than Just Drink: How Black Social Clubs Created Communities in Tucson from 1860-1900

Between 1865 and 1870, Black people from slave states emigrated to Tucson. As skilled cooks, domestics, barbers, scouts, surveyors, and builders, they came in search of place to start life as free people. Historians described this first wave of Black pioneers as passive Tucsonans disinterested in the politics and governance of the city. Yet, these early arrivals were quite vocal and active members of Tucson society. They established several political and social clubs, creating Black only spaces. Within the safe spaces of the clubs, they were able to discuss national, territorial, and local politics. The clubs faced backlash from white town persons, who feared that the congregating of minorities would lead to the degradation of the city. The unprovoked attacks included false legal actions against the club, city ordinances banning black socializing, and even refusal of hall spaces to meet. However, with each new obstacle the early Black social clubs found new and innovative ways to persevere. This presentation will trace the rise of social and political clubs established by early Black Tucsonans. It will discuss how social clubs like the Arcade Club was more than a social club and happy hour for Black men. Rather, Black social clubs became instrumental in supporting black businesses, building and strengthening the black community, and setting the Black political agenda in Tucson.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – African American Studies
Life Outside the Bordello: A Tucson Madam’s Story

Annie Evelyn O’Sullivan aka Annie Clayton aka Eva Blanchard was a notorious Tucson madam, who used different names for her legitimate and illegitimate businesses. Tucson newspapers regularly reported on her criminal and civil exploits, making her one of Tucson’s most well- known citizens. Away from her bordello, O’Sullivan was known to donate money to charity and churches, and support city ordinances that kept prostitution away from city buildings, schools, and churches. She used various aliases to present a different persona to the public. Each alias aided her in navigating all of Tucson’s society. This presentation focuses on O’Sullivan’s life away from her bordello and tracks her legitimate business transactions and dealings. The presentation includes newspaper articles, court documents and other primary sources that help trace her life as a shrewd businesswoman. Regardless of the name she used, O’Sullivan was without a doubt one of Tucson’s first successful businesswomen.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – African American & Women’s Studies

Dr. Li Yang has been an Arizona Humanities Road Scholar in the AZ Speaks Program since 2015. A recipient of the C.L. Sonnichson Award for best article in The Journal of Arizona History in 2011, her writings, concerning topics ranging from Chinese history to Chinese American history, have appeared in The Journal of Arizona History and some major magazines and newspapers in both Taiwan and mainland China. Additionally, Dr. Yang is also a prolific translator. She has translated three books from English to Chinese in the areas of modern Chinese history and Sino-American relations during the Cold War era. Yang received her Ph.D. in East Asian Studies from the University of Arizona in 2004 and taught variously at the University of Arizona, the Arizona State University and Pima Community College. She also held a full-time faculty position at the Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University from 2010-2013.

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American-born: The Story of Scholar, Leader, and Advocate Rose Hum Lee

Rose Hum Lee (1904-1964) was a renowned twentieth-century sociologist known for her studies of the Chinese in the United States. As an American-born daughter of Chinese immigrant parents, she offered a unique insider’s view of social structure and family life in American Chinatowns. Lee earned her doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1947 when she was 43 and went on to forge an independent career at Roosevelt University, a predominantly black school where she became head of the Department of Sociology. She advocated for complete assimilation as a solution to the challenges faced by Chinese Americans and condemned traditional leaders for obstructing this progress. Lee’s work continues to influence sociological research on immigrant experiences and cultural assimilation. She passed away in Phoenix,
Arizona, in 1964 at the age of 59, leaving behind a lasting legacy in her academic field of research.

  • Presentation Category – Arizona/Southwest History | Culture, Gender, & Identity Studies – Asian American Studies

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