IAIA Together Apart

Keeping the IAIA community connected

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Please tell us about your thoughts and experiences in this time of uncertainty.  We believe that posting stories and reading what others are going through will be helpful in strengthening our community during this period of social distancing.

“...my heart goes out to the students who have also lost something back at home....know that I understand what you are going through—you are truly not alone.”


“It has been a challenging time—but I try to remember that it has been worse for so many others.”


“I just looked at him and said ‘don’t you want to go color on the walls some more?’ just to buy myself a few minutes of silence.”

Nicole Lawe (Karuk), Social Media and Content Specialist, IAIA

“I’m doing fine—I’m an introvert, so working quietly from home feels kind of natural!”

Bill Sayre, Director Institutional Research, IAIA

Stories Posted

Words Posted (approx.)

IAIA Community Stories

Not in This Together

September 25, 2020, 2:41 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

With one change after another, the past six months have been a perpetual state of grief. For someone like me, who strives for stability, the pandemic has felt much like a sudden storm in a previously calm sea that has pulled me in too deep and left me drowning, flailing, and just waiting for the next ball to drop. I keep hearing things like, “look on the bright side,” “think about what you’re learning from this,” and, of course, “we are all in this together.” While the former two sayings are familiar anecdotes that sound less like help or support, and more like forced optimism that I’m sure anyone who has dealt with depression is familiar with, the latter has felt like an outright lie. Sure, maybe we’re all experiencing similar things, but no more so than we always have been. The pandemic experience is not universal, but is vastly different for every individual based on who they are and where they come from—no different than life before COVID-19. While it’s nice to believe that a global tragedy would have brought people closer together, the empty saying “All in this together” does not reflect people’s actions. People have fought over and hoarded supplies rather than look out for their other community members who have nothing. People have become violent in regards to mask restrictions. Employers and school administrators have been inflexible in working with individuals in what will work for their safety and/or sanity. People have not become understanding, sympathetic, or supportive. We are not all in this together. This pandemic has only shed light on how separate and broken we, as a global society, really are.

But I have hope that this light that has been shed is what we might need to actually come together and move forward. So far, it hasn’t seemed like there will be any positive change, but it is possible that seeing how we have become is something we desperately needed in order to heal and move forward—maybe it just takes time for changes to begin.

I hope that we will become our truest selves. I hope that we will admit that we have created a distance between ourselves and others who share a world with us. I hope we will see what we’ve been doing to the earth. I hope we’ll begin taking responsibility for all of these things instead of trying to say that it wasn’t us, but someone else. I hope that, as a world, we can heal and move forward together. I hope because hoping is all I can do right now, and because hope is a gift that was given to us to help us survive the worst, and because hope gives us the energy necessary to make changes. Only time will tell if this experience changes us and whether or not that change will be positive or negative, but for now, all we can do is press on and make art.


September 17, 2020, 12:12 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

The pandemic has brought me much sadness, but also blessings. A couple of months ago, my family lost my aunt to COVID-19. When I first heard the news, I cried so many tears for my aunt. I had always hoped she was doing well—it had been many years since I had last seen her. The memories of what she looked like, her voice, and her smile echoed in my mind and crumbled my heart. I still really miss her as I am writing this. I deeply wish I could see her and hug her. Just seeing my family has brought me so much comfort, and so has living with my boyfriend. Family has never mattered more to me than during times like this. All I can believe right now is that everything will be okay.

Adapting Dreams

September 11, 2020, 3:41 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

Do I wait for the air to clear, or give up dreams as I knew them?


September 9, 2020, 6:00 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

During this pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. The higher I hike, the quieter it is. Being in these mountains, I reminisce about all of the times I’ve hiked these trails—how many hours were spent getting familiar with the peaks, the ridge line, the animals, and recognizing tribal land from National Forest land.

From up here, I forget about the stress that was brought by COVID-19. I forget about the challenges I have to work with and around. No mask is needed up here. I can just breathe in the fresh cold mountain air, and try to store as much of it as I can deep into my lungs. Coming down from the top of the peak reflects coming down from freedom.

Beyond the Horizon

September 9, 2020, 6:00 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

Beyond the horizon is a new tomorrow, a new beginning, a new journey. The sunbeams dance across the sky instilling hope of a new day.

The pandemic jolted our foundation. It created chaos in our everyday life. However, we will get through this together and prepare our new foundation. This photo is a reminder that there is light on the other side—I stand still, waiting for the warm sun beams to light up my face with hope. Stand tall and wait for the sun beams to shine upon you. We are resilient and strong.


September 8, 2020, 7:52 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

This pandemic took away a sense of control I’ve always had and needed to feel secure in my life. You feel a little helpless when that control and security gets taken away from you, and the anxiety really starts to settle in. One thing I really started taking advantage of during the pandemic was the sky, or more specifically, sunsets. It was my therapy for my anxious and restless mind. I drive out to a high altitude, pull out my folding chair, and stare at the sky until the sun sleeps. Or, if I miss it while I’m driving, I simply chase it until it disappears under the horizon. I’ve never taken so many sunset photos before until this pandemic, so I guess I have that to thank it for.

Life In and After Quarantine

April 9, 2020, 1:42 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

Dear Reader,

I am writing from a world in which there is no shortage of grotesque heaps of hurt. Assuming that hasn’t gone away, maybe you’re sick of being pat on the head. Maybe you’re sick of being at the receiving end of that hurt. Maybe you’re sick of having to explain why it hurts, or maybe you’re just sick. I take it you’ve heard of COVID-19. Perhaps you’ve been a witness to your grandparent or great-grandparent ranting and reeling about the effect it had on their lives, or maybe told the same stories by your parents. They were stories about how hard they had to work to keep their jobs, or how hard they had to work to educate their children by themselves with countless additional responsibilities. Maybe your elders would say things about how they needed to feel privileged that they had a job at all—from home or at risk. They needed to be grateful that they were slaves to capitalism at the desires of the rich. Maybe your grandparents were children when coronavirus initially began. Maybe your grandparents couldn’t graduate college or high school that initial year. They remember watching their parents struggle to provide, struggle to ration food, some not knowing where their money was coming from after being “guaranteed” their position, but laid off nonetheless. The other side of the coin could be stories of how they remember their parents going out, living as-is, shopping constantly, not wearing masks, or gloves, or caring. Maybe they remember losing someone—a parent, a friend, a child? Maybe they were isolated alone, or without resources. You didn’t live through it, but this is not the depression, 9/11, or the recession of yore. This is different. So much about this disease was unforeseen. It was merciless, fast, suffocating, and unpredictable. Be patient with the shared trauma of your elders. Many of them were scared by the concept of starting families at all after this. They had about ten years to save the planet from irreversible climate damage at the time, ten years to mend at least a portion of our mark, if the state of the government wasn’t enough to petrify them. The world you inhabit is forever changed by this event, and I recommend taking it as a warning of people’s greed and ignorance, even at the eleventh hour—the hours of the devastatingly vital need to join together in our separation. You might not bear a stitch of patriotism or notion of nationalism, I didn’t either. Don’t be generous in that regard. Don’t force yourself into a mindset if it doesn’t represent you or your values yet. I hope this letter finds you at all—and I hope you take it to heart.


Someone who stayed home

Life In and After Quarantine

April 6, 2020, 4:05pm, T’cha-Mi’iko Cosgrove (Shoshone-Bannock) | Permalink (What is this?)

Life is only as long as three weeks in quarantine. The inmate has a choice of looking out the front or back windows to watch the sun pass. One is trying to see if anyone is out there. Being in quarantine, a person dreams of freedom while pacing about the room—how many times does their hand reach out to touch the door handle and walk into the sweet fresh air? But they dare not. Danger lays in wait, a sickness awaits them and death hovers on the sidelines. Freedom does not come when the door is finally open, freedom is a precious treasure that may always be just out of reach. You see, a person recovering from the coronavirus can acquire it again, they are never safe. A person who walks from quarantine into the wind is not safe either—they, too, can acquire the virus and become sick or die. Others who escaped the first go round are not safe either. Science and the medical community have not discovered a cure. We are still in danger, but you can take steps to minimize the danger by washing your hands and not leaning on the store counters like so many habitually do. Think of your everyday behavior you take for granted and never considered the simple act of touching with your hands. Think about it and stop. Now think about the rest of the things you do each and every day and rethink if you should be doing that. Think and stop, then get on with your life and perhaps that is the new freedom you can enjoy.

My Support At Home

April 3, 2020, 11:31 am, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

I’ve tried to stay—I really wanted to stay. But no words could make her understand. I’m an adult, and people wouldn’t understand why I take being treated like a kid. But that’s the way it’s been all my life—not making decisions for myself because “I have no sense of judgment” and am “just plain stupid.” According to her, it has always been “my way or no way,” but I can’t think of a time that it was ever like that. Everyday it’s a new argument and something to get angry over. I can’t take it anymore! School was my getaway—my sanctuary—and now it’s gone. Everybody who cares is too far away. Who knows how long I can handle it before I break, but I already know in my heart it’s too late.


April 2, 2020, 3:37 pm, Bear Lawrence (Lummi) | Permalink (What is this?)

I look back and wonder, as a Mother, if my kids will survive. Each of my kids have their own story—my oldest was born 2 pounds, 11 ounces with fetal alcohol effects. He has anxiety and depression. The best day ever was when he came and told me he wasn’t going to kill himself because it would be disrespectful to the ancestors. So each day I look at him and I am truly grateful—for he is my teacher. He has not left the house in two years, and in this darkness he has taught me to see the light in things. We have survived worse.

I Am Going Away

April 2, 2020, 11:02 am, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

Within these troubling times comes countless stories to be told for generations. Our stories that we in the present go through, will be marked in history. A journey back home has been done—and with that some interesting thoughts. As I was preparing to leave campus, I noticed how people kept disappearing, and the campus became more and more empty and lonely. Friends have parted ways, acquaintances and allies have parted ways—but one thing I know is that no matter what obstacle life will throw at us, we have to take it for what it is and work around it. We must move on in our lives one step at a time. Now is an opportunity to become more aware of our surroundings, and now is the time for us to become better people—not only for ourselves but for others.

Something Missing

April 1, 2020, 5:53 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

Honestly, I do not know how many times I have rewritten this—there are many things that I want to say but I don’t know how to put it into words with everything that is going on. It’s chaotic and something that I have never experienced before, but my parents have. However, self-isolation is nothing new to me. I grew up alone because there were no other kids in the area where my grandparents lived. Yes, my parents were there, but one was working and I had to care for the other while my brother was somewhere else. The ones that were there were my grandparents. They were the ones that I was around 24/7—they gave me a chance to be a kid. They helped to make school a sanctuary for me, because they taught me the importance of education.

Now, being back in my hometown, I feel like that little kid again—taking care of Mom and Dad while my brother is somewhere else again. This time it’s different though, this time around my grandparents aren’t there. Each time I go to the places that we used to go, I expect them to be there. It hurts knowing that when I want to talk to someone, they aren’t there.

Recently, an associate of mine told me “At least you have something. Just look up.” They are correct, I do have parents, but the one thing I wish I had was my grandparents. I wish I had someone to talk to. Now, do not get me wrong, I love my parents—they have come a long way to understand my passion, and they love me very much. But they are busy people. Each time I look up, either one is sleeping or the other is still at work. My parents do not mean any offense by it, but I wish when I looked up my grandparents would be there sitting at the table either doing crossword puzzles, or bickering and teasing each other. I wish I could go to their house, sit in a place that feels like home, be around my grandparents, hear their voices, and smell their delicious food.

Since I’ve been back, it does feel like I am that little kid again who feels lonely—but I know deep-down inside myself that I am not. It may feel like I am, but I know I am not. When I look up, it hurts not being able to see them. It makes me burn inside when my associate tells me I have something when, in fact, they do not know the pain I feel from being back home. When I take a deep breath and look around myself, I know that what I do have is their teachings and their love. When I look up, they may not be there—but they are in spirit—and my parents know of my pain, they know the thing I want is no longer there. However, they managed to retrieve my grandfather’s drum and grandmother’s scarf—so that each time I look up I can go outside, sit by the cows, wrap the scarf around me, and I can sing my heartbroken song.

While I sing on those days, my heart goes out to the students who have also lost something back at home, making it hard for them to be there. Just know that I understand what you are going through—you are truly not alone.

Warrior Mode

April 1, 2020, 2:20 pm, Bryson Meyers | Permalink (What is this?)

In these times, I am a warrior for my kids, my people, and especially my fellow students. I wake up and turn on the mode of a modern-day warrior by starting with prayer and smudging. I walk out to my backyard looking into the sky, and thank Unci Maka (Mother Earth) for this time of test, and the opportunity for the people to realize what is taking place. I reach out to my fellow warriors, via social media, and make sure that their mode is on as well. Our past warriors have fought through many massacres and sicknesses so that the people can have a future. Today our land is going through a time, once again, of yet another battle—and we as warriors have to have our mode on. We are within our homes and our land. I say “Warriors! Rise and Protect! Let’s do our part and have the MODE ready! We are Make Ourselves Dedicated to Everyone! MODE.”

The Drive Home

March 31, 2020, 10:08 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

Driving home due to the closure of campus felt long and never-ending. Next to me sat my girlfriend who was there to help me move out of my dorm, and in the backseat my friend who needed to catch a ride. Throughout the drive I thought to myself “So I really gotta go back home.” It was disappointing knowing that despite all my efforts to get away from home, it’s still the place I find myself in now. Driving home was a real emotion fuck too. Trying to put up a front to my girl, supporting my friend who felt the same as me, and focusing on the road even though all I wanted to do was sleep. However, with my brain thinking of sixty things at once, I decided a break was necessary. I took us on a detour to a lake a few miles off the interstate, where we stood and listened to the lapping water for a few minutes. Then, the most native thing happened—an eagle showed up and we watched him circle above the lake. At that moment, I looked up to the gray sky and smiled, it gave me hope. Hope that things will change for the better, because being visited by an eagle means receiving the most luck you can get. So guys, we’re gonna get through this because I was visited by the eagle. No worries. We got this. Good luck to everyone.

In the Silence

March 31, 2020, 8:05 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

I have found myself between a rock and a hard place before.
I have fallen down so many times, I look at my scars.
I must get back up! I am crying deep inside.
I am now in between that rock and hard place, you see.
Deep down in this cold dark silence, it is easier to see the light.
Let it make me grow as I learn to accept and forgive myself with the things I cannot change.
Let me grow and feel that love to accept the things I can change.
I will find myself.
In the beautiful ways that I know exist.
You are not alone, and you are loved!
Growing hurts sometimes—don’t give up.
Stay safe, and many blessings to you all.

The Realization

March 31, 2020, 7:45 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

Thought nothing of the virus, and I didn’t think much of it. When my dad was doing his best to explain it, I chose to ignore it. A few nights ago, I tried seeing my friends, and before I could take one step, my dad yelled at me. I was about to yell back, assuring him I’m fine and I felt like he wouldn’t understand. But instead, I just walked into my backyard. I was so pissed, but then I got onto my phone. Seeing pictures of the world, seeing animals and nature finally being able to breathe. A part of myself felt calm by this, I looked at my backyard. I felt nostalgic, and maybe this is what Mother Earth needed. What we needed. I kept walking around my backyard, seeing old toys on the ground the same way I left them, faded and discolored over time. I saw some flowers on the ground, it was weird, the setting and all of the places that it had to be. I didn’t like it at first, but I got used to it.

The flowers were like a metaphor to me, it reminded me of myself. I was in a beautiful place in New Mexico—now I’m here in my old town that is pretty run-down with crackheads and such.

Even though I’m in quarantine, it’s like I have time to breathe and slow down for a bit. I just hope this doesn’t last forever—but until the virus passes through I’m gonna take one step at a time and enjoy my time with my family and even with myself.


March 31, 2020, 7:38 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

I feel like a piece of metal that has been twisted and dented up, then someone attempted to straighten it back out. Trying to seem like I’m ok, standing up—but you can see the imperfections all over my temple. The imperfections come from me bending and twisting to conform to the new norms and social demands put on us. Stay-at-home order, social distancing, things like that. My family is getting along fine, for now.

Being Home

March 31, 2020, 7:15 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

It has been very stressful and overwhelming to be at home again. There are some days where my family and I get on each other’s nerves, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Being in quarantine has made me realize that I do take some stuff for granted and it hurts to see how we treat the world. Since I’ve been home, I watch TV, visit, and listen to old stories from my great grandma—just taking all this time in. I’m just happy that the world is finally getting better and reliving again.

IAIA Family

March 30, 2020, 9:38 pm, Paul C Moore (Chickasaw), Interim Dean of Students, IAIA | Permalink (What is this?)

I first got to know the stars at night at a talk at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument close to 40 years ago. I always liked Orion and the way it spun through the night. My niece Skylar is supposed to graduate high school this spring and was going to travel. We get videos every day of Otis our grandson smashing peas or looking at books. He is also starting to dance to Ska. The kids are both amazing and creative musicians and filmmakers, and now the gigs are canceled—LA is tough when it all shuts down. A friend in Park Slope says the ambulances are constant. I realized the best part of what I do at work is talk to amazing artists and writers and filmmakers, and in some small way help them work on their dreams. I am really anxious sometimes, I hope that I can help our family with the challenges that they are facing. The moon is still small enough tonight that I can see Orion hanging to the left, still there. A quiet deep breath as it spins through the night sky.

IAIA Family

March 30, 2020, 6:28 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

I am currently going through graduate studies and the online course work has helped me stay focused and positive through these strange times. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of my IAIA family. This includes my Alumni brothers and sisters, my professors current and past, and everyone from the Residential Hall. I wake up every morning to pray for everyone’s safety, as well as my second home.

Stay safe IA family.


March 30, 2020, 5:23 pm, Debbie Haddow | Permalink (What is this?)

We walk this pandemic-maddened earth.
All around eyes narrow,
glares tearing into us
when we pass
in stores with shelves near-empty.
How swiftly those
surrounding pull away
when we near
shows clear as their disdainful eyes
turned in our direction.
Coronavirus, its whispered name,
history repeated,
those of Asian descent
blamed for this disease,
2003 and the SARS outbreak unforgotten.

We will the world to defy the pandemic.
The virus is simply
a white respirator mask
drawn tight over faces
to conceal pre-existing prejudicial views,
few masks remaining
for doctors risking their lives.
The public avoids our workplaces,
our presence synonymous
with infectious disease,
tables in Chinese restaurants vacant,
doors forced to close,
no one to feed.

We wake to a world in pandemic.
This is the age of the coronavirus,
society divided as fatalities rise,
Asians designated
the face of the pandemic.
History will look on this age
as yet another example
of fingers being pointed
when the world collapses.
If we survive, we’ll be left
with another memory
of when we became
the scapegoat again, our identity
tied to the coronavirus.

Working With a Seven Year Old

March 30, 2020, 1:43 pm, Eric Davis, Director of Marketing and Communications, IAIA | Permalink (What is this?)

Along with the issues of working from home with equipment that is much slower than I have at work—I’m also here everyday with my daughter, since schools have closed and my wife works in a critical position where she is in her office everyday. I adore my daughter, but her presence severely increases the amount of time it takes to complete anything. Trying not to be frustrated by it all.

Caring About Others

March 30, 2020, 1:22 pm, T’cha-Mi’iko (Shoshone-Bannock) | Permalink (What is this?)

I’ve been in quarantine since March 17—my daughter’s birthday. I won’t be free until April 5, but I will be in quarantine because I might not be able to give a reassuring hug to a friend or shake the hand of a stranger in friendship.

Our lives have changed and we will go through life as strangers because we no longer have that close contact we had only a couple of weeks ago.

I know what being the boy in a bubble feels like. I have a depressed immune system—meaning I can no longer touch the shoulder of a grand daughter, hug a little sister, or high five a good friend.

It’s a sign of our time here on Earth. Our ancestors survived. So too will we. In the future our children will give a hug to a friend. We will feel that hug from across time and space while we sit together and watch our children play.

May the Creator watch over you and your loved ones.


March 27, 2020, 4:31 pm, Jason S. Ordaz, Associate Director, Marketing and Communications, IAIA | Permalink (What is this?)

I am a man—I can protect my cubs. I can feed my cubs. I can clean after my cubs. I can teach my cubs. I can talk with my cubs. I can listen to my cubs. I love my cubs.

I am a man—I can protect my cubs. I can provide hand sanitizer to my cubs. I can mix up a 1:8 ratio of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile liquid soap for my cubs. I can dole out a strict regiment of vitamins and probiotics to my cubs. I can purchase video game subscriptions for my cubs. I can provide latex gloves and face masks to my cubs. I can purchase the largest boxed.com order—ever—for my cubs. I can make homemade french fries for my cubs. I can distance everyone and COVID-19 from my cubs. I love my cubs.

I am a man—none of this would be possible without my woman. I love my woman.

I am a man. I love my woman. I love my cubs.

Good Medicine

March 27, 2020, 3:17 pm, Anita Gavin | Permalink (What is this?)

I draw strength from meditating on Scriptures from the Bible. Like this verse—“A joyful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22. So, I try to laugh heartily everyday. If nothing seems funny today, I remember something that made me laugh so hard that I shed tears. Most of these stories are only funny to me and my family, but when I share them I experience laughter which is really “good medicine.”

Check On Your Friends With Kids

March 27, 2020, 2:31 pm, Nicole Lawe (Karuk), Social Media and Content Specialist, IAIA | Permalink (What is this?)

Since my partner has been deemed an “essential” employee and spends the majority of his time at work, it has been just me and my toddler most of the time, and these past two weeks working from home have been a major test of patience for me. My son’s attitude reminds me of me more and more every day. Likewise, I am reminding myself of my mother more and more every day. What is going on? This feels like the Twilight Zone.

This kid keeps taking his diaper off and flinging it across the room. Have you ever had to clean human feces from the carpet at 9 am, and then have a zoom meeting at 9:15? If so, I’m right there with you. There is crayon scribbled on every surface of this house. You know, at first I told him to stop, but towards the end of the first week I just looked at him and said “don’t you want to go color on the walls some more?” just to buy myself a few minutes of silence. Don’t most two-year-olds nap? Not this guy! And he’s become obsessed with TikTok. Every five minutes it’s “Make a TikTok, Mama!? Make a TikTok!?” We’ve watched so many TikToks now that every now and then he opens the front door and screams “CORONAVIRUS!” à la Cardi B. He’s running through the living room screaming it as we speak. Somehow we’ve watched Cars two-million times in two weeks. Ka-chow! And I caught him eating an ant the other day—he squished it under his finger, stuck his finger in his mouth, then went in for more—and I didn’t stop him. I just sat there in my exhaustion and let it happen. But, hey, it’s protein, right? I guess we’re both coping by stress-eating—I’m already three string cheeses, a row of Oreos, and several fruit snacks deep today. I seriously can’t stop snacking! But I need to be better at practicing self control, because I already had to venture out to the store once this week to replenish our snack stock and while I’ve definitely feared for my life at a Wal Mart before, it just hit different this time, ya know?

It’s not all bad of course. We’re having fun and goofing around a lot, and most importantly I can tell he’s happy having me home. It’s just hard not really getting a break now and then and a bit isolating.

So check on your friends with kids, guys! We’re not ok!

Doing OK

March 27, 2020, 1:45 pm, Bill Sayre, Institutional Research Director, IAIA | Permalink (What is this?)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how students are doing and how the faculty are adapting their courses for an online environment, so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s stories.

I’m doing fine—I’m an introvert, so working quietly from home feels kind of natural!

Everyone, I hope you’re safe and healthy!

It Has Been a Challenge But I Try To Stay Grateful

March 27, 2020, 1:05 pm, Anonymous | Permalink (What is this?)

It has been a challenging time—but I try to remember that it has been worse for so many others. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home, my family is safe and well, and I have my health. Sending support and love for the entire IAIA community!


View the COVID-19 resource page on the IAIA website.