Researchers from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and colleagues, address the call for Indigenous data sovereignty (ID-Sov) — the right of a nation to govern the collection, ownership, and application of its own data in the International Indigenous Policy Journal.
Federal and state governments and researchers direct most collection, analysis, and use of data about U.S. Indigenous populations. Based on a review of the literature, the researchers identified five critical problems with existing data today: inconsistent, irrelevant, poor quality, produced and used within an environment of mistrust, and controlled by those external to the Native nations.
However, tribal leaders and communities as well as the federal government and other stakeholders, depend on these data to inform decision-making.
Reliance on data that do not reflect tribal needs, priorities, and self-conceptions threatens tribal self-determination. Tribal data sovereignty through governance of data on Indigenous populations is long overdue.
“At the heart of Indigenous data sovereignty lies data-driven research and data use, and building data capabilities beyond academic institutions to benefit Indigenous communities,” said lead author Dr. Stephanie S. Rainie, assistant professor of public health policy and management at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health.
The article provides two case studies of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and their demographic and socioeconomic data initiatives to create locally and culturally relevant data for decision making.
Data as a Strategic Resource: Self-determination, Governance, and the Data Challenge for Indigenous Nations in the United States. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, April issue, Rainie, S. C., Schultz, J. L., Briggs, E., Riggs, P., Palmanteer-Holder, N. L.