Research at the Speed of Trust: A guide for researchers and Native communities

Western-based research unfortunately has some major
scandals in its history (the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study,
and, more recently, the ASU-Havasupai DNA scandal), which have
deepened Indigenous distrust of outsiders. Western-based research
methods also often disregard Indigenous traditions, values, and ways of
knowing. For example, the principles of the 1978 Belmont Report on ethical human
subject research focus on individuals rather than communities. Likewise, a typical
academic Institutional Review Board does not consider interviews with community
members to qualify as “human subject research” and therefore may not require
informed consent. But many Native communities expect to know exactly what such
interviews are intended to reveal, how the information will be used, how it will benefit
their community, and how their community will be protected from harm – all elements
of informed consent.
In short, conducting research in Indigenous communities is not the same as
conducting research anywhere else. This document is intended as a broad guide
for researchers and Indigenous communities to help them understand some of the
complexities they may encounter and elements they must consider when approaching
research with Native populations. It is our hope that this guide will help researchers
and the Indigenous communities they work with to avoid common
pitfalls, improve their relationships, and strengthen the value of
their research efforts.

March 6, 2023
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