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Friends of Tijeras Pueblo project team from left-to-right: Judy Vredenburg, Friends of Tijeras Pueblo Project Manager; Deborah Jojola (Isleta/Jemez), mural artist; Sandra Arazi-Coambs, USDA Forest Service archaeologist. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hemphill, Visual Information Specialist, USDA Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Office of Communication & Engagement

CCDI Awardee Friends of Tijeras Pueblo connects past and present

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Friends of Tijeras Pueblo (FTP) is one of CCDI’s 2024 Libraries, Archives and Museum Awardees. The team began their project in December 2023 and will be presenting about their work at CCDI’s upcoming Summer Fuse 2024 event in Washington, D.C. FTP is receiving $61,366.50 for their project, “The Ancestral Tiwa World Connected to the Present: Tijeras Pueblo in Context,” which will update and enhance the ability of the Tijeras Pueblo Site Museum to acquaint visitors with the 14th century Tiwa populations of the Central Rio Grande Valley. Isabel Brador, a Program Specialist for the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative, interviewed Judy Vredenburg, project lead, to learn more about FTP’s project. 

Can you tell us about your project? 

Judy Vredenburg: Friends of Tijeras Pueblo is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization that works in partnership with the USDA Forest Service to preserve, protect and promote the Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological Site. In the 14th century, the site was populated with Tiwa-speaking people associated with the Pueblo of Isleta located just south of present-day Albuquerque. The site was extensively excavated in the 1970s, then back-filled to protect the coursed adobe construction. We have consulted with the Pueblo of Isleta in the interpretation of the self-guided trail, garden, and small museum. There are three parts to the project, all of which utilize some material from the Library of Congress (LOC). A “zine” in the form of a slideshow is being created in collaboration with Isleta elders. LOC images of 19th and 20th century Isleta are combined with modern-day images to demonstrate that “We are still here.” An existing mural/map of the 14th century middle Rio Grande Valley will be digitally interpreted with videos of elders offering Tiwa and English explanations of the mural’s images. A video of a Pueblo weaver at work will enhance our full-scale Pueblo loom and a loom image in the mural/map.   

What excites you or inspires you the most about the work you’ll be able to achieve with the CCDI award? 

Judy Vredenburg: “Finally, we can tell our story our way.” This was the response of one of the Isleta elders when approached with the proposal for the mural/map. Now, the further collaboration between the Pueblo of Isleta, the USDA Forest Service and the Friends of Tijeras Pueblo is creating even more meaningful enhancements to our little museum and greater emphasis that the Tiwa culture lives and thrives in the 21st century while honoring it. The mural/map artist is working on this project too and offers the valuable perspective of a present-day Indigenous professional who is honoring the traditions of her people. The project helps fulfill our desire to offer the non-Native public an authentic and respectful interpretation of Indigenous life while creating a meaningful resource for the Pueblo population of the greater Albuquerque area.   

Black and white photo depicting a pueblo woman pottery-making. Prints and photographs online catalog, Library of Congress.


Part of the project involves creating a digital zine that combines 19th and early 20th century Isleta photos with present-day photos of Isletans. What has this project looked like so far and have you gleaned any insights from juxtaposing those materials?   

Judy Vredenburg: In order to accommodate the schedule of the interactive design studio we’re working with, we have worked primarily on the mural/map and loom portions of the overall project. A large number of Isleta photos have been selected from the LOC collections, however, and there has been discussion with Isleta cultural committee members on what 21st century photos we might include and how they should be arranged – temporal intermixing or a sequential presentation. This will require more discussion. 

Black and white photo depicting Isleta woman weaving belt. c 1889.


A goal of this project is to provide a significant resource to Pueblo schools and youth organizations as well as to other public, private and home schools in the greater Albuquerque area. How do you envision schools and organizations using the digital zine and the digital representation of the mural? 

Judy Vredenburg: Initially, school and youth groups will have to visit the site to take advantage of the resource. But a very exciting advantage of digital interpretation is that it is shareable in different ways. We’ll be talking with Isleta educators soon about how they would like to utilize the material. And, once the technology is established, there will be a great deal of discussion about how to expand access to the resources.   

The digital representation of the mural will be augmented with oral histories from the mural’s artist and Isleta elders. What themes and topics can users expect to hear when interacting with the digital mural? 

Judy Vredenburg: The mural has a wealth of information and expression. Each of the elders decided what part of the mural they wanted to highlight. The ancient trails depicted on the map are of great importance to them as they represent lifelines to the Pueblos – trade, hunting, communication, resource-gathering, for example. Water, essential to life, has many depictions on the mural. Individuals with special gifts are given life-time assignment to help the community know when to plant, when to have certain ceremonies and how to show gratitude to the Creator for the gifts that sustain the people. The very land itself – the sense of place – is of utmost importance. If each person who interacts with the digital experience can take away even a slightly deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Indigenous perspective, it will be a good start for our vision to be realized.   

Summer Fuse 2024 

Interested in learning more about FTP’s work or hearing from other CCDI awardees? Register now for CCDI’s upcoming Summer Fuse event on June 24! This virtual event will feature presentations from our 2024 CCDI Award Recipients, a Community-Engaged AI Panel, and our CCDI Junior Fellows and interns.    

CCDI is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path program with support from the Mellon Foundation. This four-year program provides financial and technical support to individuals, institutions and organizations to create imaginative projects using the Library’s digital collections and centering one or more of the following groups: Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color from any of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and its territories and commonwealths (Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands). Learn more about CCDI here. 


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