Bio statement: Sandra Littletree comes from the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation (Diné). She is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Washington Information School and a member of the Indigenous Information Research Group (IIRG). Her research interests lie at the intersections of Indigenous systems of knowledge and librarianship. Previously, she worked as the Knowledge River Program Manager at the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science. She has developed advocacy resources for tribal libraries, produced a series of oral histories that document the stories of Arizona’s tribal libraries, and oversaw the revision of the 3rd edition of TRAILS (Tribal Library Procedures Manual). She was one of the six Honoring Generations Scholars at The University of Texas at Austin iSchool. She is a past president of the American Indian Library Association (AILA). She is originally from the Four Corners region of New Mexico, USA.
I am enrolled Navajo and Eastern Shoshone from northwest New Mexico, but I now find myself living and working in the very green Pacific Northwest. I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Washington iSchool, studying tribal libraries. Although I have not lived in New Mexico for some time now, I still consider myself a New Mexican at heart. I’ve made several cross-country moves in my life, including moving from New Mexico to Austin, TX to North Carolina to Arizona and now to Washington. How did I get here? Below is a meandering of my path…After receiving my undergraduate degree in Education at New Mexico State University in 2000, I served one year in AmeriCorps where I developed an after-school tutoring program in my hometown of Kirtland, NM. And while in AmeriCorps, I also worked as a tutor and adult educator with Project Read in nearby Farmington, NM. This experience inspired me to go to graduate school to focus on literacy and to earn my teaching license. I earned an MA degree in Curriculum and Instruction, plus my NM state teaching license and an emphasis on adolescent and adult literacy, from New Mexico State University in 2004.
As much as I loved teaching, I decided that being a public school teacher was not going to be the best fit for me at the time. Fortunately, I discovered the world of librarianship. I was very lucky to be one of the six students in the Honoring Generations program, under the direction of Dr. Loriene Roy, at the University of Texas Austin Information School. The Honoring Generations program provided tuition support, as well as travel funding and mentorship, while I worked on my MSIS degree. Traveling around the world with Dr. Roy, meeting Indigenous librarians from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, really opened my eyes to issues in Indigenous librarianship. I received my MSIS degree in 2006 and prepared to enter the profession.
I worked as an academic librarian for two years at North Carolina State University Libraries through their Fellows program. As a Fellow, I worked in the collection management department and in reference and instruction — an amazing opportunity to work with and learn from some of the brightest and most innovative librarians in the country. Not only were my NCSU colleagues bright and passionate, they were also good people that I still consider as friends, even after I left the Libraries. The Fellows program gave me a nice foundation in which to further understand academic library issues and project management.
I then worked as the Program Manager of the Knowledge River project at the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science for three years, 2009-2012. Working with KR was a defining moment for me. Not only did I get to work with some amazing students and alumni, I learned so much about library services for underserved populations, particularly Latino and Native American communities. While there, I witnessed over 40 KR students graduate. It was an extraordinary experience, to say the least.
I moved to the Seattle area to start my PhD program in 2012.