The Pima County Public Library is hosting a new series of film screenings aimed at better understanding and appreciating Native American cultures. But sometimes, just watching a film isn’t enough; that’s where the “Many Nations” team comes in.
The “Library Night Out at Old Pascua” is a bimonthly event series pairing film screenings with live music, art demonstrations and the Pima County Public Library’s Bookmobile. The events are organized by the library’s Many Nations team, a community services group formed to strengthen outreach and partnerships with local Native American communities.
For the next Library Night Out event, the library will screen “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” a documentary that examines the impact Native Americans played in the formation of rock music. Artists profiled in Rumble include Jimi Hendrix, Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie and more.
Along with the film, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe will provide a blessing, traditional drummers will perform and Pascua Yaqui indie rock band Sur Block will discuss their music.
The events occur every other month at the Richey Resource Center at Old Pascua Village in Tucson. The “Rumble” screening is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 28.
“The purpose behind Library Night Out is to really engage and have an event that is more than just a screening,” said library community relations manager Holly Schaffer. “The more activities you have, the more interest there can be.”
The first Library Night Out, which took place this June, screened the PBS Kids program “Molly of Denali” which was the first children’s series in the U.S. to feature a Native American lead. Along with the screening, there were Native American crafts, traditional Yaqui food, and a fashion show of traditional Native dresses.
“The Many Nations team has rocked this past year, there’s been this incredible momentum,” said library services manager Amy Rusk.
The Many Nations team is one of many public library cultural groups, which aim to strengthen outreach with various communities. Other teams include the Kindred group, which celebrates the black community; the Welcome to America group, which celebrates immigrants; and the Nuestras Raices group, which celebrates Hispanic cultures and organizes bilingual events.
“It’s about recognizing the need for us to reach out to these communities, and having the agency to pull people together,” Rusk said.
While Rusk is an administrative liaison for the Many Nations team, she emphasizes the fact the cultural groups are a team effort and involve many members. This includes staff members inside the organization, like Vivian Enos and Jessica Redhouse, and collaborators outside of the organization, like tribal librarian Amalia Reyes, and representatives from the Tucson Indian Center: Angela Montiel and Tyler Smallcanyon.
While the Many Nations group was only formed last year, some of the library’s groups are much more established, such as their LGBTQ group which recently celebrated 20 years.
But in that short time, Many Nations has developed multiple outreach programs, including the “Share the Wealth” program, which donates books via the library’s “Bookmobile” to local tribes.
Through the “Share the Wealth” program, the Bookmobile now goes to Sells, Barrio Libre and Old Pascua. Since starting in April 2018, they’ve donated over 12,000 books.
“One thing to note, which I find really amazing is that the staff members on these teams self-select,” Schaffer said. “The outreach work they do, from events to special book clubs and community activities, is all in addition to their regular, daily library duties.”
Library Night Out partners include the San Ignacio Yaqui Council, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tucson Indian Center and Arizona Public Media.
“Everyone’s tapped into this network, it’s been very natural working together,” Rusk said. “It’s nice to see and to make our work relevant to the staff and the community. It’s all about relationships.”
Library Night Out at Old Pascua presents “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World” from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28. At the Richey Resource Center, 2209 N. 15th Ave. Free.