Siihasin Summit Report

Looking Forward

Desi Redriguez-LonebearOn Thursday June 23, 2016 Diné Policy Institute (DPI) hosted a one-day summit on data, research, and data management in the Navajo Nation at Diné College in Shiprock. The conference called, “Siihasin Summit: Reflecting on research and data management in the Navajo Nation,” was a successful forum held in the John Pinto Library of south campus.

Panelists and audience members discussed many issues, from concerns about sustainable funding for libraries and archives to looming challenges in controlling and regulating new forms of data collected in the reservation.
Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear,
U.S. Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network

A number of panelists talked about the need to update the Navajo Nation Human Research Review Board, an organization within the Navajo Nation government that regulates research that involves people in the reservation.

The Diné Policy Institute invited a founder of the U.S. Indigenous Sovereignty Network, Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, to present on the work of this new organization. She talked about how tribes can better assert sovereign claims over data the federal government regularly collects and maintains. She said that tribes needs to be aware of the data that is out there and start to claim control over it.

Wendy Greyeyes
Wendy Greyeyes, Navajo Studies Conference Board, highlights the difference between how much quantitative and qualitative research is done in the Navajo Nation.

Panelist Wendy Greyeyes highlighted the disparity between quantitative and qualitative research done in the Navajo Nation. She also showed which institutions awarded the most advanced degrees, i.e., master’s and Ph.D. degrees, for Navajo graduate students. It turns out most of the higher education produced in Navajo people comes from Northern Arizona University (NAU).

Lloyd Lee
UNM Native American Studies Associate Professor Lloyd Lee asks Rodriguez-Lonebear about “decolonization.”

At the conclusion of the summit DPI founded the Navajo Data Sovereignty Working Group, a coalition comprised of Native researchers who are interested in proposing specific reforms to research regulation to the Navajo Nation Council and Navajo Nation President. This working group will meet regularly over the next year and provide a report to the tribe’s elected leadership and identify specific actions for reform. More details about this working group will be forthcoming.

Moroni Benally
Navajo Technical University Dean of Business Affairs, Tim Begay, and Diné Policy Institute Director and Diné College Vice President of Government Affairs, Moroni Benally, discuss the role of the tribe’s colleges in managing research in the reservation.