CARTOGRAPHER - WRITER - ACTIVIST
I am an independent cartographer, writer and activist whose work focuses on the Sonoran Desert, and a committed volunteer with Ajo Samaritans. My humanitarian aid practice has led me towards learning to honor and center O’odham language and ways of navigating and traveling in the desert.
As a humanitarian aid volunteer, I am interested in the many ways that the desert acts as a guide to people moving through its space; taking travelers from water source to water source, showing distinctive peaks, buttes and ridges that are visible for miles, and preserving paths made by humans and animals centuries ago.
I believe that how we speak about the land also impacts our relationship with it. The English language does not have the words to describe the variety of forms of the mountains in the Sonoran Desert. US American maps inscribe a colonial version of history on the landscape with place names based on Spanish, Mexican and US American conquistadors and settlers.
In 2019, I began researching the original O’odham names of as much of the land as I could and recording them with an idea that learning to describe the desert in its native language could help me navigate in a way that feels more connected to the land and that honors the desert as a living being.
I have created many maps of the Sonoran Desert. My current project, Sonoran Desert Journeys, was first presented at the 2022 Tri-National Sonoran Desert Symposium. My map “Search Here: The Growler Valley” won the University of Arizona’s 2021 Feminist Visualization Challenge. I also offers presentations and workshops on humanitarian aid, decolonization and mapping at the “borderlands” for colleges, universities and other organizations.
My work has also been featured in the Detroit Institute of Arts 2019 Ofrenda de Muerte exhibit where I presented “Desconcido,” which honored the lives of the more than 2,000 people who have died crossing the Sonoran Desert who remain “unidentified” and in the Detroit Socialist, where I have written about the impact of surveillance and militarization on the city.
Prior to committing to a full-time cartographic and activist practice in December 2018, I served as Deputy Director of acclaimed dance company, Step Afrika! from 2012 to 2018, and Special Events Director at Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company between 2004 and 2012.