The Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance

Our team works to:

  • Engage diverse disciplines
  • Build community
  • Practice accountability
  • Generate collective knowledge
About the Collaboratory

The Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance develops research, policy, and practice innovations for Indigenous data sovereignty. Indigenous data sovereignty draws on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that reaffirms the rights of Indigenous nations to control data about their peoples, lands, and resources. 

A growing number of institutions recognize the need to create policies and practices that uphold Indigenous Peoples’ rights to data. Indigenous Peoples’ data encompass data and information (1) at the individual and collective levels, (2) about humans and their non-human relations, and (3) arising from Indigenous Peoples’ knowledges. Institutions include but are not limited to: Indigenous governments, research funding agencies, universities, libraries, museums, industry, and nonprofits. Institutions hold already existing data while also creating new data every day. Oftentimes, digital data or data collections do not reflect the principles of free, prior, and informed consent. Lack of provenance, permissions, and ethical norms defined by Indigenous Peoples in the collection, storage, and use of data hinder Indigenous access to data and the ability to maintain relationships throughout the data lifecycle and across data ecosystems. 

We are building upon and supporting the movement to develop new institutional frameworks that center the terms of Indigenous communities around research and data partnerships. Collaboratory team members engage tribal rights holders and institutional stakeholders through research, education, and advocacy to understand the barriers that they face and to identify opportunities for change. Our goal is to move beyond mere recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to data towards institutional policy and practice changes that protect and strengthen Indigenous Peoples’ relationships with their data, information, and knowledge. 

The Collaboratory partners with Indigenous Peoples and nations in the US Southwest and across the globe, as well as national and international networks of Indigenous data sovereignty and governance experts. The team’s disciplinary breadth includes public health, law, business, geography, sociology, social work, public policy, and environmental and climate sciences.

Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples and their lands on which we live and work, recognizing that the Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance emerges from a commitment from each one of us to our relatives, communities, and constituents. Our work is anchored by our shared values and goals around Indigenous Peoples rights to, interests in, and relationships with their data, information, and knowledges. We acknowledge and hold accountability to our ancestors, our knowledge keepers including the land and our non-human kin. We acknowledge ancestors who came before us, and youth who will continue keeping and sharing our knowledges with generations to come.

Ending Silos: Counteracting Anti-Blackness and Doing Better for Generations to Come

The Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance stand in solidarity with those seeking justice for George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Dalvin Hollins, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and every Black person’s life who has been ripped away from their family by the unrestrained actions of institutional racism, including the discriminatory use of force by law enforcement. As allies, we know that Black lives also suffer from the racism ingrained in our governmental and institutional systems. The United States of America was founded on the genocide and erasure of our collective ancestors, which is ongoing. The anger and violence spilling into the streets is a result of centuries of violent oppression that has gone unchecked for too long.

We are committed to holding this democracy accountable for the equitable representation, protection, and promotion of all Black lives. As Indigenous staff, we call upon our Indigenous communities to examine our own perpetuation of anti-Blackness and the harms that inflicts our Afro-Indigenous/Black Native relations. As White, Latinx and other identifying staff we commit to confronting our own racist biases, both hidden and overt. Collectively, we commit to taking tangible steps to disrupt anti-Blackness in our communities and to change how we support Black peoples, communities, and initiatives.

We must listen and educate ourselves on the racist treatment felt by Black lives and engage in a dialogue of change. As a unit and as individual researchers, we commit to citing Black authors, incorporating Afro-Indigenous narratives, and developing research partnerships with Black scholars to assist in breaking down research silos.

Hundreds of years of injustice and colonization have led to the change we demand today. We hold our organization, the Udall Center and its NNI, accountable to specific actionable items as well as propose individual actions that we personally commit to enacting. We understand and affirm that our collective actions, as an organization and as individuals, must be better.

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