“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

VIEWS: 1551 June 13, 2024

Heaven Sepulveda Wins Heard Museum’s Eagle Spirit Award

By Chris Picciuolo

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member and Arizona State University doctoral candidate Heaven Sepulveda was chosen by the staff of the Heard Museum in Phoenix to receive the Spring 2024 Doctoral Eagle Spirit Award, which is presented to two exceptional Native graduate students fulfilling a course of study at ASU.

One doctoral candidate and one master’s candidate are selected, and each receives a $500 award. The Master’s Eagle Spirit Award recipient was Jamelyn Ebelacker (Santa Clara Pueblo).

Heard Museum Director of Community Engagement Marcus Monenerkit said that the award, which has been offered since 2011 when it was introduced by Jaclyn Roessel, the Heard’s education and public programs director at the time, is presented to a person who is involved in the community as a leader, volunteer, educator, advocate and mentor.

“The award is a great opportunity to show people that we can work through and past our differences and challenges,” said Monenerkit. “All of the applicants have a compelling story grounded in a heartfelt personal experience, and it is impacting their communities despite the lack of resources and time that many of us face.”

Sepulveda is in her third year of earning her doctorate in leadership and innovation from ASU. Her research is focused on language revitalization and cultural preservation within Salt River Schools. As part of her research, she has visited many different tribal villages and nations to see what they are doing to preserve tribal language and culture and what can be implemented at the SRPMIC.

“I am honored to be selected for this prestigious award. The Heard Museum is well respected in Indian Country,” said Sepulveda. “Everyone who has helped me in any way on my research from different tribal communities [is] well informed [about] what the Heard does to honor and preserve Indigenous cultures. This award belongs to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the work being done in O’odham-Piipaash language revitalization and cultural preservation.”

Sepulveda’s strong record of community service and dedication as a servant leader was a big factor in the Heard’s decision to present the award to her, according to Monenerkit.

“Her role as vice-chair for the Salt River Schools Education Board illustrates a commitment to education leadership,” he said. “Her narrative emphasized the value of relationships and was underscored by her innovative educational language bus tour she proposed to assist in bridging cultural gaps, building allies and promoting richer understanding in education.”