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University Library Launches Aztlan Center

Release Date: July 14, 2021

Sean Pooley

Academic Affairs Marketing Coordinator

Marketing Communications & Community Relations


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Colorado State University Pueblo has launched the new Aztlán Center which will be housed in the university Library. 

The launch also corresponds with the 50th anniversary of Chicanx Studies on the campus of CSU Pueblo, spearheaded by the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Multiple events will commemorate this 50-year celebration throughout the 2021-22 school year.

The Aztlán Center is dedicated to the study of Chicanx, Latinx and Indigenous Peoples and Environments of the Southwest. The Center will sponsor research, lectures and events, and community outreach that can advance knowledge on the campus related to the culture and history of the region, encourage the teaching of Southwest Studies, and broaden the base of potential students for Chicanx Studies courses. 

Named after the homeland of the Aztec empire, the Aztlán Center honors the city of Pueblo’s history as the gateway to the Southwest and the indigenous people of the region. The Aztlán Center furthers CSU Pueblo’s Vision 2028 goal of becoming the people’s university of the Southwest by educating the community about the history of the region and aligns with CSU Pueblo’s goals as a Hispanic Serving Institution. 

“Our long-term goal is to help the University meet its mission and its vision to become a Southwestern University,” said Interim director of the Aztlán Center Deborah Espinosa.

In addition to the Aztlán Center, The University Archives and Special Collections includes the Colorado Chicano Movement Archives (CCMA). This collection serves as a resource for the history of the indigenous people of the area and Chicanx movement.  

“The Aztlán Center is taking essential steps in assisting the university in reimagining education across the Southwest United States,” Espinosa said. “We cannot speak of this distinct cultural and geographical region without inclusion of the Indigenous Peoples, including Mexican families who remained on their lands after the Mexican-American War.”  

This August, the Aztán Center will host a one-day Summer Institute for faculty interested in learning how to include Chicano Studies in their courses. The Aztlán Center has already announced several research opportunities for students and faculty. This upcoming school year, the Aztlán Center will partner with the University of Colorado’s American Music Research Center and Susan Thomas to research the history of Pueblo’s immigrant  music history  in the Soundscapes of the People project.

Three CSU Pueblo professors have also received research stipends from the Aztlán Center. Danilo Leon, an associate professor in the Spanish Department will be developing a course titled Chicanx in Film and Media. Associate Professor of Biology, Franziska Sandmeier  will research the Colorado Checkered Whiptail. Associate Professor of History Grant Waller will develop a new course that will delve into the Mexican-American conflicts of the 19th century.

The Aztlán Center has also funded its first grant for community member research.  Charlene Garcia-Simms will conduct research on Chicanas in early Southern Colorado which will result in an article submitted for publication and campus presentations through the Aztlán Center.

“That’s really our goal is to enable the research and then house the research, and share the research,” Espinosa said. “Ultimately, we would like to have our faculty influence their classes so this is reflected in what they do.” 

“We have centuries of tradition here,”  said. Rhonda Gonzales, Dean of Library Services,  “With the vision of the university, it’s understandable that we should have a research center that can assist the faculty in doing research related to the area’s unique heritage and history.”

For more information on the Aztlan Center, please contact the CSU Pueblo Library at 719-549-2361 or Espinosa at 719-369-4108.

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