Indigenous Nations Library Program

The Indigenous Nations Library Program supports Indigenous learning, promotes Indigenous scholarship, and cultivates Indigenous creation.  The goal is to cultivate and support Indigenous people to be active agents of change in their community by providing culturally safe learning environments, culturally relevant information services and developing a community of scholars that advance scholarship, teaching and intellectual discovery.


Indigenous Learning

To support and culturally interface Indigenous ideas and academic content in a mutually balanced approach.

Indigenous Scholarship

To promote and bring awareness to Indigenous information, publications, research, and ideas!

Indigenous Creation

To cultivate Indigenous ideas, arts, and knowledge for the benefit of the broader intellectual community.


INLP Newsletter Logo

Scarlet Macaw Bowl Design painted by Acoma artist, Shyatesa White Dove

The University of New Mexico and the Indigenous Nations Library Program reside on the lands of traditional Tiwa speaking peoples, including the Pueblos of Isleta and Sandia – whose historical relationships to these lands exist to this day. It is this relationship to land that we must acknowledge the lives and knowledge of Indigenous people, local and abroad.

To align our services to support Indigenous Learning, promote Indigenous scholarship, and to cultivate Indigenous Creators we have crafted Indigenous centered library and information services, culturally safe learning spaces, community oriented programmatic outreach, and culturally relevant research support.

Culturally Relevant Information and Research Support

INLP is a unique service point in the Zimmerman Library for Indigenous related research questions and information. INLP displays books relating to global Indigenous people and research. INLP staff provide in-depth information on those information areas along with general library questions. INLP Librarians teach skills that will help students use and critically evaluate information resources efficiently.


INLP is targeting its outreach efforts on our three mission priorities; Indigenous Learning, Indigenous Scholarship, and Indigenous Creation. We have created unique programs to cultivate and support Indigenous people to be active agents of change in their community. Here is a snapshot of what we have done thus far in each mission areas.

Indigenous Learning
  • Indigenuity Workshops
  • Knowledge Circles
  • Smudge and Study
  • Dinner and Research
Indigenous Scholarship
  • Native Speaker Series
  • Michael and Enokena Olson Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • Indigenous Literacy Projects
Indigenous Creation
  • Creative Native - Adobe Workshop Series
  • The Typewriter Challenge
  • Indigenize UNM - Photo Contest
  • Indigenous Reflections Film Project

We also develop community outreach events for social cohesion and communal gatherings where food is shared. Developing community is important in all of our outreach events.

Popular community events include
  • INLP Coffee House
  • INLP Social Potluck
  • Indigenous Movie Theater
  • INLP Graduation Party

For more information and to see when the next event is scheduled, follow us on social media.

Culturally Safe Learning Spaces

INLP is a comfortable learning environment for Indigenous people at UNM and surrounding communities. Our learning spaces provide a right for Indigenous people to be unapologetically Indigenous – free from personal and cultural harm. We provide a space for Indigenous people to enact their cultural agency such as speaking their language, dressing in their cultural regalia, and/or performing and practicing their cultural traditions.

What's Inside
  • Comfortable Reading and Study Areas
  • Spacious Drop-in Study Rooms with 6'x4' Magnetic White Board
  • INLP Conference Room (Rm. 230)
  • Native Newspaper Collection
  • Indigenous Book Display Collection, highlighting Indigenous Studies, Topics, and People

By Kevin Brown, previous Program Specialist

In 2004, the Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP) was established and impacted the academic lives of Indigenous students and faculty of the University of New Mexico. This radical experiment in its time was the first of its kind outside of tribal colleges and the program architect, Mary Alice Tsosie was the spearhead into this Indigenous Librarianship movement with administrative support from Johann van Reenen. This program is unique in a university setting because the program is an experiment in Indigenous library services, programming, collection development, and Indigenous learning.

In proposing what INLP would become, it was originally called the First Nations Library Program and through consultation with colleagues at UNM the name was revised to Indigenous Nations Library Program. Another component of INLP’s development was to satisfy a key provision in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UNM and the various Pueblo communities in New Mexico, which called for an “increase in enrollment of Native American students and to assure the completion of a degree program by those native students”.

INLP was first housed in Zimmerman Library, centrally located on campus. Within the building, however, INLP’s location on the second floor in the historic west wing, while cozy, warm, and inviting, was difficult for patrons to locate. In December 2010, the vision of “A Library Gathering Place” was fully realized when INLP relocated to a dedicated space in a more prominent location visible from the main stairwell on Zimmerman Library’s second floor in what used to be the Dean’s office suite.


To declare INLP as a space for Indigenous learning, three murals by Sixtus and Susana Dominguez, artists known professionally as Ansulala’, were commissioned for the INLP conference room, group study room, and entryway. Completed in January 2011, the INLP group study room mural titled: “IPAD: Indigenous Pueblo, Apache, Dine” was a collaboration between Native American Studies students, Ansulala’, and INLP staff. Mary Alice Tsosie had originated the vision of the mural as a unified tribal representation in which each New Mexico tribal community would be reflected in INLP spaces.

The second mural in the INLP conference room was finished in July 2011. Titled,“Re-Member: Re-Generation: Wellspring of Wisdom”, this mural’s thesis is about the dialogue and presentation of Indigenous thought and research from Indigenous people, past and present. Elements from the universe are used as foundational references in Indigenous ontology and together with “IPAD: Indigenous Pueblo, Apache, Dine,” both murals are intended to revitalize Indigenous culture and community, similar to the ways in which knowledge holders and educators can restore Indigenous lifeways.

Sixtus Painting

The third mural, titled “Planting the Seeds of Knowledge” and painted on the entryway of INLP, was completed in late 2011. In Ansulala’s final mural, they envisioned the interaction of knowledge, tools, and librarians in a manner corresponding to the way in which Indigenous people cultivate important life-giving crops.

After realizing a space has been secured and beautiful murals were painted to Indigenize the space, Mary Alice Tsosie transitioned out of INLP and moved into an oral history project capturing the voices of UNM Native American Alumni and Scholars. Paulita Aguilar stayed in her role as Native American Curator and new staff included Sarah Kostelecky, Jason Schoup, and Heidi Perea.

INLP refined its program and library services, creating a unique service point in the Zimmerman Library for Indigenous related research questions and information. INLP displays books relating to global indigenous people and research. INLP staff and faculty provide in-depth information on those information areas along with general library questions. INLP Librarians teach skills that will help students use and critically evaluate information resources efficiently. Classroom or personal instruction were created and continues to this day.

In 2018, Paulita Aguilar, one of the original librarians of INLP similarly to Mary Alice Tsosie, transitioned out of INLP and moved into the Center for Southwest Research to fulfill a career ambition to work in the archives & special collections. After this transition, INLP soon redesigned its mission and services to promote Indigenous Learning, Indigenous Scholarship, and Indigenous Creation.

INLP Grand Opening

Today, this unique place is re-developing its program space to match the surge in utilization statistics. Every year in INLP's program history, the number of students using INLP grows every year. The past two years have been the strongest ever. With no plateau recorded, it is time to accommodate our growing patron population. The growing use of INLP spaces has caused INLP to redesign program spaces to accommodate more patrons but also imagine creative ways of improving our spaces, such as creating more drop-in study rooms, combining rooms to create a larger classroom, and creating more murals. In the spirit of those who developed INLP into what it is now, we plan for exciting changes to the program space for future Indigenous students.

Planting the Seeds of Knowledge

INLP Newsletter Logo

One interpretation of these symbols is as metaphor. Planting seeds, planting sunu’ (maize, corn) Step-fret and spiral designs, representing the sky, clouds, lightening and other weather phenomenon, are omnipresent in the Indigenous world. They are found on every day and ceremonial ceramics, in rock art, in architecture and in places.

These designs symbolize fertility and fertile earth weather possibilities learned through living praxis and movement with the earth. Planting knowledge is the metaphor; Indigenous planning is the action for sustainability. Knowledge too can be cultivated through planting Indigenous/ planning Indigenous: epistemology, pedagogy, methodology, and participatory action research and Indigenous action planning, and INLP does just that by giving/ sharing voice/facilitation/research instruction, assistance, and work.

With these tools, INLP is growing the garden of knowledge and facilitating the river of knowledge for our students and community. Planting knowledge as A Seed is the graphic theme of this mural. The hands represent the human aspect intervention/ recognition as an integral part of earth’s sustainability and complexity of life in a place as well as the prayer meal being reciprocated and released, just as the library, when activated, represents the release of knowledge or knowledge gained by student/community action participation, and this painting is a physical reminder of that prayer/wisdom attainment towards earths sustainability.

IPAD: Indigenous Pueblo, Apache, Dine': Symbiotic Relationships among Tribal Nations of New Mexico

In December 2010, Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP) was relocated from an upper floor to room 226 to accommodate an increasing demand for Native American resources by Native American students attending the University of New Mexico (UNM) and from the surrounding Native American Nations.

INLP is a highly unique program designed to fulfill distinct purposes. It is designed around four principles. Its first purpose is outreach to UNM American Indian students and New Mexico Tribal Libraries. Second, retention of UNM American Indian students. Third, collaboration with UNM departments offering American Indian curricula. Fourth, research services to all. INLP is a cultural treasure within the University Libraries system.

Completed January 2011, this mural was a collaboration between Native American Studies students/professional artists, Ansulala’ and INLP Outreach Librarian / Kiva Club advisor, Mary Alice Tsosie (Dine’). It was Mary Alice Tsosie who envisioned a federation of tribal nations of New Mexico. Her vision pictures the Pueblo, Apache, and Dine’ [Nations] to be unified, present and participatory in the academy. Ansulala’ in congruence, mapped the design to include Indigenous worldview. The result is the artwork in the INLP computer lab today.

There are 3 bands painted on an architectural elegance feature along the ceiling. There are 19 Pueblo Nations in New Mexico. The 19 Pueblos of New Mexico are Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildelphonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni. Each Pueblo is its own sovereign nation but all Pueblos share common life practices that have been established over centuries. The Pueblos are represented in the painting with the water design. Water is an Indigenous priority, water is life. The Apache nations in New Mexico include the Jicarilla and the Mescalero Apaches. They are symbolic of the mountain design in the artwork. It is said that the spirits live in the mountains and they can be summonsed to link the natural and the supernatural. The mountains represent the sacred natural law of Mother Earth as protector from enemies and epidemic diseases and provider of sustenance for Indigenous peoples worldwide. The Dine’ Nation (also known as Navajo Nation) spans over New Mexico borders into Arizona and Utah. Today, the Dine’ Nation is the largest Indian tribe in the United States, with reservation land covering a total of 17.5 million acres. In the painting, the Dine’ Nations is associated with the star design. The star design is in rich in multiple meanings for Indigenous peoples. For this particular painting it completes the intertribal relations as complete spiritual ecology reflecting Indigenous cosmology.

The painting reflects the interconnected web among the tribal nations of New Mexico. It also calls for clean water, clean earth, and clean air. Together, water, mountains and stars create an integral spiritual ecology and promote Indigenous critical consciousness. The painting was made using primarily acrylic paints. It also utilizes natural pigments and 23k gold leafing. It was painted on site.

Remember: Re-generation: Wellspring of Wisdom

The mural painting for the Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP), presentation was complete July 2011. INLP facilitates lecture series, in depth presentations, and talking circles. These events are often hosted in the presentation room, which is equipped with up to date digital screens and recording media. Indigenous elders, scholars, authors, activists, educators, and students come to meet with interested parties, serving both the student body and the public at large. The purpose of this space was a driving force in the creation of the artwork painted on site.

The mural in this room is designed to showcase 2 distinct areas to present either on the East or West wall. A marquee-like design is painted on each of these facing walls. They each feature a clay bowl symbolic of the four earth’s elements. Earth and water, which constitutes the clay body, fire which is used to cure and strengthen the clay and air, which is said to circulate within the bowl itself.

On this particular bowl design, contributing Acoma artist, Shyatesa White Dove painted the scarlet macaw. She is renowned for her traditional pottery and specifically for her parrot designs. She learned this form her grandmother and she is part of a long lineage of traditional pueblo potters. She brings this striking image from traditional pottery and expands its presence into muralism. From within the bowl two undulating avanyu, or water serpents recognized as water bearers emerge. Beneath their bodies is a shower of rain. The rain is gold. They depict a process, cyclical in nature, of rejuvenation, regeneration, and further remembering. Mother Earth is experiencing great dismemberment because of political borders, ecological disasters and wars of worldviews.

The talks taking place in the context of INLP and this room strive to remember Mother Earth and Indigenous peoples, be remembering, to reconnect, to bring back to a healthy wholeness by a process of redefining education, communication and deliberation whereby they process is inclusive of all First Nations and Indigenous peoples. Encircling the East and West walls are black and white cloud lighting designs reiterating the connection between Earth and Sky and the rain falling from the sky towards the earth. Metaphoric for the necessary connection between people communicating with one another, passing on information from one generation to another, one tribe to another, one individual to another maintaining sustainable sustenance. Again the East and West walls mirror one another in design.

In the center is a circle of faces, one representing the maternal and paternal. This depiction is in honor of those who came before us and those are to come after us. The concept of seven generations is to know our Indigenous ancestors and to look into the past and future seven generations to see the consequences of our actions on the future generations and to remember the past. This is the Indigenous view of familial ancestral sustainability. The arrowhead is a tool of sustainability and is also symbolic of protection. It is Indigenous understanding that our core values must be protected and our communities and indeed nations must be tightly woven together to protect and strengthen Indigenous Identity, communities, culture, language, sacred sites, waters, lands and territories. Throughout the artwork you will see cloud designs, these evoke ancestors and rain imagery.

The entire artwork is a physical prayer for rain, and recognizes the rain as the giver of life. The same way rain rejuvenates life; the elders, scholars, authors, activists, students, and educators regenerate and revitalize culture and community. Our hope is to remember Mother Earth, to bring her into balance once again with our devotion to harmony.

INLP Scholarship

The Indigenous Nations Library Program is pleased to announce the launch of the Michael and Enokena Olson Memorial Scholarship, which was established to support undergraduate and graduate Native American students.

INLP is now accepting applications for this Scholarship. INLP will award two $250 scholarship awards for Fall and Spring semester. This award is designed to offset the financial burden of attending UNM.

Undergraduate and graduate students must be enrolled full-time at UNM and provide proof of tribal enrollment. All applications are due the Friday after Fall Break and Spring Break.

To apply please submit your application packet online, or by email to, or to the INLP Office on the second floor of Zimmerman Library by October 22nd.

Your application packet should include the following:

  • Copy of Certificate of Indian Blood
  • Document indicating full-time enrollment
  • One letter of Reference from either a UNM Faculty or Staff
  • A 250 essay describing how this scholarship will impact your financial need
  • A 250 essay describing how the library has impacted your academic progress
  • The Application Form. Use either the webform to submit online or the PDF version of the application formto submit by email or hard copy.

Additional requirements:

Awardees must give a presentation on the financial impact of this award to their academic progress and development.

If you have any questions, please contact INLP at or 505.277.7433.

Congratulations Nonabah Sam Spring 2022 Scholarship Recipient - read the story.