Native American representatives and UA leaders visit Steward Observatory’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter for Tribal Leaders Summit

June 13, 2024
Tribal leaders gather at Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter

Tribal leaders capped off the summit with a trip to Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter for an evening of stargazing – and a quick tutorial from SkyCenter staff on how to see the "green flash" through binoculars just as the sun is setting. Chris Richards/University Communications

Tribal leaders from across the state gathered at the University of Arizona Monday to meet with campus leaders and discuss ways to strengthen partnerships between the university and tribal communities in Arizona.

The event, hosted by the university's Office of Native American Initiatives and Tribal Engagement, was the third Tribal Leaders Summit the university has held since 2021.

"We're providing a platform for our university community to come together and hear directly from tribal leaders about how we can collaborate with one another," said Levi Esquerra, university senior vice president for Native American initiatives and tribal engagement. "In order to better serve tribes, we have to know who they are and what they're dealing with."

After the meeting sessions on campus, tribal leaders were shuttled to the university's Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, where they spent the evening atop Mount Lemmon stargazing through telescopes and hearing from university astronomers about discoveries made at the site.

The evening on the mountain capped a day of mutual learning.

"When we're given opportunities to create new partnerships, it's so important to take advantage of them and to be in close proximity and have dialogue with people at the university," said Buddy Rocha, an Eller alumnus and Yavapai-Apache Nation member. "It's so important for each of us to get that learning opportunity with one another."

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Lisa Garcia peers through a Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter telescope

Lisa Garcia, a member of the Ak-Chin Indian Community Council, peers through a telescope at the university's Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter. The stargazing session capped off a day of mutual learning among university and tribal leaders during the university's third Tribal Leaders Summit, held on Monday. Chris Richards/University Communications