G. B. CORNUCOPIA
Interpreter at Chaco Canyon National Park
"I came to the Southwest for a variety of reasons, one of which was astronomy," says G. B. Cornucopia, who has been fondly dubbed "Mr. Chaco." He has been an interpreter and park ranger at Chaco Canyon for eighteen years. "I heard about Chaco Canyon from Carl Sagan's TV series, Cosmos. Several segments were filmed here, especially regarding the study of archeoastronomy; and then I found out about all these studies that had been done since 1970 that tried to illuminate the people, their astronomical practices and traditions. I just found that fascinating . . . that brought me here at first, and it's still one of the important things that holds me here. . . ."
Mr. Cornucopia organized the donation of telescopes to the Chaco Observatory and began the first public astronomy program at a national park. But his interest in Chaco goes beyond astronomy.
Three years ago, he arranged for a local Puebloan dance group to come and perform traditional dances at Pueblo Bonito for the first time in hundreds of years. He wanted to both connect these people to their past and continue the ancient traditions that are at the core of the Chacoan culture.
ANDREW GARCIA Sr.
Tewa Dancers from the North
San Juan Pueblo
"I felt something here, a chill . . . this is where my people were, my grandfathers. And to be here is an honor. To sing, and to have my dancers do the dances that they taught us. They were the ones who created all of these things that we do today. That's why I feel real proud that I can be able to come to this place, because this place is where it all started. Today, I'm one of the children of this place. And to see all the footsteps of people that came here to visit this place, and then to also have mine here, is really an honor."
Andrew Garcia Sr. is a member of the Pueblo of San Juan Tribe, a university professor, and a Vietnam veteran. His fundamental motivation is to find a viable and sustainable way of preserving his culture's artistic heritage. In 1976, he founded The Tewa Dancers from the North, a Native American dance group that has taken the indigenous southwestern aesthetic around the world. He is dedicated not only to preserving the ancient dances of the Puebloans but also to reestablishing the deeper cultural connections that the dances embody.
ISABEL HAWKINS, Ph.D.
Solar Reasearcher, University of California, Berkeley
"There's so much sun-earth connection all around us here . . . the people that lived here about a thousand years ago were so keenly interested in understanding their place in the universe. . . ."
As a research astronomer and senior fellow in science education, Isabel Hawkins conducts research in astronomy and space science education, and is the director of the Center for Science Education at the University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL). SSL is an organized research unit that builds and operates NASA space science satellite missions. Dr. Hawkins's primary area of astrophysics expertise is in chemical abundances of the interstellar medium. As director of SSL's Center for Science Education, she is principal investigator of several national education initiatives, including the NASA Office of Space Science's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum (in collaboration with Goddard Space Flight Center), and Project FIRST (Fostering Reading Through Science and Technology).
Dr. Hawkins received her B.S. in physics from the University of California, Riverside, and her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a member of the NASA Office of Space Science Education Council and a former member of NASA's Space Science Advisory Committee.
SHELLY VALDEZ, Ph.D.
"I'm from Laguna Pueblo, and personally, for me, Chaco is a story within itself. It's a connection with my people, and it's one of our ancestral homes."
Dr. Shelly Valdez has worked in education for over twenty years in a variety of positions, including classroom teacher, project director for the Four Directions Technology Project - An Indigenous Model, and associate director for K-12 programs at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). She has both a B.A. and an M.A. in elementary education and a Ph.D. in multicultural teacher education, with a concentration on research in the area of science education. She currently is the owner and manager of an educational consulting business, Native Pathways (NaPs), located in New Mexico.
Dr. Valdez believes that culturally responsive education works, and she plans to continue in the path of her father: empowering Native American youth to achieve a balance between pursuing their dreams and maintaining contact with their traditional world.