Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board: Indian Leadership for Indian Health

Conducting Research in Indian Country

Researchers must be sensitive to the local culture, traditions, research priorities, and lifestyle of AI/AN communities.  Furthermore, researchers must be responsible and accountable to the tribal government where the research is being conducted.  Tribal communities are sovereign nations.  Listed below are suggestions for improving research sensitivity and responsibility to tribal governments and communities:

Researcher Sensitivity

  • Ensure understanding and good communication
  • Respect tribal culture and traditions
  • Respect tribal sovereignty and self-determination
  • Respect concerns and opinions of community
  • Respect local research priorities and needs
  • Respect individuals, families, and communities
  • Respect human participants’ rights and dignity
  • Exclude over-studied populations from participation
  • Demystify research
  • Be accessible
  • Provide feed-back and findings in a timely manner
  • Respect a tribe’s right to decline participation
  • Respect the autonomy and decisions of the tribe

Researcher Responsibility

  • Communicate and coordinate with tribal leaders
  • Negotiate tribal and community consent to participate
  • Maximize benefits and minimize risks
  • Protect human participants and sensitive data
  • Comply with informed consent process
  • Obtain service unit director, tribal, IHS research committee, and IRB approval
  • Do not begin research until all approvals are obtained
  • Share results of the research with the tribes
  • Protect participant and tribal identity
  • Build capacity within the community
  • Comply with the agreed-upon protocol specifications
  • Comply with tribal and IHS publication clearance