Selected Readings on Indigenous Data Sovereignty

The GovLab
Oct 12 · 17 min read

By Juliet McMurren

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of improving governance through data and technology, The GovLab publishes a series of Selected Readings, which provide an annotated and curated collection of recommended works on themes such as open data, data collaboration, and civic technology.

In this edition, to recognize and honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we have curated below a selection of literature on Indigenous data sovereignty (IDS), the principle that Indigenous peoples should be able to control the data collected by and about them, to determine how and by whom it is accessed, stored, and used, and to develop data practices and methodologies that reflect their lived experiences, cultures, and worldviews. The selection complements previously released readings on Personal Data, Data Governance, Algorithmic Scrutiny — among other Data related topics.

To suggest additional readings on this or any other topic, please email info@thelivinglib.org. All our Selected Readings can be found here.

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Source: Wikimedia

Selected readings

Principles

Kukutai, Tahu and John Taylor (eds) Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Towards an Agenda (2016)

  • The foundational work in the field, this edited volume brings together Māori, Australian Aboriginal, Native American, and First Nations academics, researchers and data practitioners to set out the case for Indigenous data sovereignty.

Lovett, Raymond et al Good Data Practices for Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Governance (2019)

  • This multi-authored chapter is the first in a volume the editors describe as born of frustration with dystopian “bad data” practices and devoted to the exploration of how data could be used “productively and justly to further social, economic, cultural and political goals.”

Rainie, Stephanie Carroll, Tahu Kukutai, Maggie Walter, Oscar Figueroa-Rodriguez, Jennifer Walker, and Per Axelsson (2019) Issues in Open Data — Indigenous Data Sovereignty. In T. Davies, S. Walker, M. Rubinstein, & F. Perini (Eds.), The State of Open Data: Histories and Horizons.

  • Part of a wider report about the state of open data, this chapter discusses the tension between the principles of open data and IDS. Describing open data for Indigenous Peoples as a double-edged sword, the authors note the potential of open data to help deliver on Indigenous aspirations for sustainable development. At the same time, open data perpetuates data challenges born of colonization, including assumptions about a single nation-state and that open data is both useful and benign.

Research Data Alliance CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance (2019)

  • The RDA’s CARE principles propose an additional set of criteria that should be applied to open data in order to ensure that it respects Indigenous rights to self-determination. It argues the existing FAIR principles — that open data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable — focus on data characteristics that facilitate increased sharing while ignoring historical context and power differentials.

Applications and case studies

Carroll, Stephanie Russo, Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear and Andrew Martinez, Indigenous Data Governance: Strategies from United States Native Nations (2019)

  • This article reviews IDS strategies from Native nations in the United States, connecting IDS and IDG to the rebuilding of Native nations and providing case studies of IDG occurring within tribal and non-tribal entities.

Chaney, Christopher Data Sovereignty and the Tribal Law and Order Act (2018)

  • This article surveys the relationship between data sovereignty and the provision of criminal justice services, a key aspect of tribal sovereignty. The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) 2010 addressed tribal data by mandating federal justice and law enforcement agencies to coordinate and consult with tribes over data collection, and providing tribal criminal justice agencies meeting federal and state requirements with access to national crime databases to enter and retrieve data.

[Dewar, J.] First Nations’ Data Sovereignty in Canada (2019).

  • This paper provides an overview of First Nations experiences of Canadian efforts to identify First Nations individuals, communities, and Nations in official statistics and data, and of the development of First Nations Data Sovereignty efforts over the previous two decades.

Garrison, Nanibaa’ et al Genomic Research Through An Indigenous Lens: Understanding the Expectations (2019)

  • This multi-authored study compares research guidelines for genomic research among Indigenous peoples in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

Gifford, Heather and Kirikowhai Mikaere Te Kete Tū Ātea: Towards claiming Rangitīkei iwi data sovereignty (2019)

  • This article gives an outline of the Te Kete Tū Ātea research project, an four-year, two phase participatory research initiative by the Rangitīkei Iwi Collective to establish iwi data sovereignty. The first phase resulted in the development of an iwi data needs analysis and comprehensive iwi information framework, which identified potential data sources, gaps in current information, and strategies to address those gaps. The second phase led to the prioritization of a key information gathering domain, economic data, and a statistical evaluation of current iwi data holdings. The project adopted a Kaupapa Māori approach: it was “Māori led, Māori controlled, privileged a Māori worldview, and was framed around questions identified by Māori as of relevance to Māori.”

Johnson-Jennings, Michelle, Derek Jennings, and Meg Little Indigenous data sovereignty in action: The Food Wisdom Repository (2019)

  • This article arose from the experience of the authors at the Research for Indigenous Community Health (RICH) Center. Observing that while Indigenous health and nutrition information is available, it is dispersed and difficult to access, they proposed the development of a Food Wisdom Repository to gather meaningful data and information on Indigenous health practices and efforts. The result, supported by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, is an online digital repository of wise food practices grounded in Indigenous knowledge and IDS.

Montenegro, Maria Subverting the universality of metadata standards: The TK labels as a tool to promote Indigenous data sovereignty (2019)

  • This paper explores how metadata standards, and in particular the widely used Dublin Core, reinforce colonial legal property frameworks and disenfranchise Indigenous people, and how they could be used (or subverted) to exercise and promote IDS.

McMahon, Rob, Tim LaHache, and Tim Whiteduck Digital Data Management as Indigenous Resurgence in Kahnawà:ke (2015)

  • This article documents IDG experiences within the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk (Quebec) community as it set up and used ICT systems to manage community data on research, education, finance, health, membership, housing, lands, and resources. Their research followed the implementation of a customized digital data management system, and sought to find out employees of community service organizations, chiefly in education, conceived of and used data, and the role of data management as part of self-government and Indigenous resurgence.

Rainie, Stephanie Carroll et al Data as a Strategic Resource: Self-determination, Governance, and the Data Challenge for Indigenous Nations in the United States (2017)

  • Despite the need of Indigenous nations for data to help identify problems and find solutions, US Indigenous nations encounter a data landscape characterized by “sparse, inconsistent, and irrelevant information complicated by limited access and utility” that does not serve to address tribally defined needs. Because much of this data is collected and controlled by others for their own purposes, mistrust in data collection is high.

Walter, Maggie and Michelle Suina Indigenous data, indigenous methodologies and indigenous data sovereignty (2019)

  • In this article, Walter and Suina propose that there is a dearth of Indigenous quantitative methodologies, driven by a longstanding mistrust of positivist research that positions Indigenous peoples within a deficit discourse. What the authors call “quantitative avoidance” leads to lived consequences for Indigenous peoples: since the statistics produced by quantitative methods form the primary evidence base for policy within the colonial societies, failing to engage with them removes Indigenous people from a critical part of the policy debate.

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The Governance Lab improving people’s lives by changing how we govern. http://www.thegovlab.org @thegovlab @nyutandon #opendata #peopleledinnovation #datacollab

Data Stewards Network

Responsible Data Leadership to Address the Challenges of the 21st Century

The GovLab

Written by

The Governance Lab improving people’s lives by changing how we govern. http://www.thegovlab.org @thegovlab @nyutandon #opendata #peopleledinnovation #datacollab

Data Stewards Network

Responsible Data Leadership to Address the Challenges of the 21st Century

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