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-  2019 

Indigenous Data Sovereignty: University Institutional Review Board Policies and Guidelines and Research with American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

DOI: 10.1177/0002764218799130

Keywords: Indigenous data sovereignty,American Indian and Alaska Native,Indigenous people,qualitative data

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American Indians, Alaska Native, and other Indigenous people throughout the world have undergone and continue to experience research abuses. Qualitative data such as intellectual property, Indigenous knowledge, interviews, cultural expressions including songs, oral histories/stories, ceremonies, dances, and other texts, images, and recordings are at risk of exploitation, appropriation, theft, and misrepresentation and threaten the cultural sovereignty of American Indians, Alaska Native, and other Indigenous people. These issues are potentially magnified with the increasing use of big data. Partly as a result of past and current research abuse, the Indigenous data sovereignty, the control, ownership, and governance of research and data, is growing. In this article, I discuss American Indian political sovereignty, cultural sovereignty, and Indigenous data sovereignty, with an emphasis on qualitative data sovereignty. In addition, I explore whether Arizona’s public universities—Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and University of Arizona—policies and guidelines support Indigenous data sovereignty and the extent to which they align with the Arizona Board of Regent’s tribal consultation policy that governs relations between the three Arizona universities and Arizona American Indian nations. Overall expectations, requirements, and processes do not go far enough in supporting Indigenous data sovereignty. Although each university has specific research policies that follow the Arizona Board of Regent’s tribal consultation policy, the university guidelines differ in scope in term of supporting Indigenous data sovereignty. In addition, none of the policies address qualitative data sharing, including those in big data sets. Based on the findings I make several recommendations for researchers, including supporting the Indigenous sovereignty movement and to reconsider big data use and past positions about qualitative data ownership and sharing with regard to American Indians, Alaska Native, and other Indigenous people


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