Preparing for Tribal Engagement in Research

Dr. Ken Lokensgard, Co-Director of the Center for Native American Research & Collaborations (Native American Programs/Office of Tribal Relations) provided an overview of the things you should consider before submitting research protocols, requests for letters of support and collaboration, and grant proposals that involve working with Tribal partners.

Relevant Links

My name is Ken Lokensgard, and I’m with the Center for Native American Research and Collaboration that is part of the larger Tribal Relations and Native American Programs Office, which is tied to the President’s Office and Provost’s Office, respectively. I’m also an adjunct faculty with Anthropology.

But my primary appointment is really here. And I, along with my co-director for the Center for Native American Research and Collaboration, Zoe Higheagle Strong kind of we’re here to support engaged research with tribes and to support tribal scholars and to support just good work with Native American peoples. So, know that we’re always here as a resource. That said, we have some basic bits of advice we’d like to offer potential researchers, you know, question bits of advice here that’ll be useful to people who’ve already done some of this work before as well.

So, there’s our contact information on this first slide. So, he also oversees our entire program, and she’s Vice Provost of Tribal Relations and Native American Programs, as well as associate Faculty in the College of Education, specifically, in Educational Psychology. So, she wears many hats. Not long ago, we also added Terri Parr. She’s a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Zoe’s a member of the Nez Perce Tribe.

And Terry Parr for a long time, I think maybe 17 years was the program coordinator for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, which is a very large regional intertribal organization. So, she has extensive contacts with people in Indian Country, in this region. And if you reach out to us for support, you may find yourself talking to her as well.

She’s super knowledgeable and we’re really happy to have her help. So really is a lot of projects going on with Native American peoples at WSU and most of those are really wonderful and we’re proud of them and happy to be involved in this and really great stuff that we’re not involved with as well. And we’re just as happy to see that at the bottom of the page there you can find a link to our particular page in the larger Native Programs website.

There’s also an email address there where you can reach out to CNRC and of course you can find my email address at the website as well. So, I do want to start with a land acknowledgment. Sometimes land acknowledgments are a little bit controversial because, well, sometimes they’re a little bit nothing more than performative, I guess we could say, but we take this acknowledgment pretty seriously at WSU. It’s not the case that all universities, but we do here. You want to emphasize at land-grant universities in particular, and especially WSU, is built upon the dispossession of Native American lands. The long history behind that having to do with the Morrill Act and the processes through which Congress appropriated Native American land and made available to individual states to create land-grant universities.

That’s an ongoing discussion we have at WSU. Zoe gave a talk about that just…was that on Monday? I guess today’s Wednesday…And there’ll be lots more conversation about how to how to address that, that dispossession. So, we take seriously the fact that we are located upon appropriated Native American lands. And I’m coming to you from WSU Pullman and Pullman specifically is located upon the historical territory of the Nez Perce and Palus peoples.

So, you can see a lot more information online under the university’s strategic plan about the land acknowledgment and what it really means.

So, I want to start off by talking a little bit about Indigenous knowledge. There’s a picture here of one of the ancient cedars in the area. I think that picture may maybe take at Hobo Grove, kind of up near Clarkia above the Mary Creek drainage and the uh…What’s the other river there? I’m forgetting the name of the river but above the Mary Creek drainage and you know I don’t know for sure I’m not a forester, but I imagine that tree’s like 1000 years old or something like that, you know, if you go up and look at one of the groves near, near at Elk River there was a 3000 year old tree. So, you know, just imagine what that tree is seen in 3000 years and imagine what the people who would consider this tree to be a part of their homeland. Imagine what they see and more specifically, what they’ve learned. That’s a lot of knowledge. So, to get at this issue, I want to cite the memorandum that came from the White House on November 12th, 2021, almost two years ago.

And this was a memorandum on Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and federal decision making. There’s some language that is used in the memorandum that is really important. This little quote taken from the taken from the memorandum from the White House, I take your indigenous traditional ecological knowledge is a body of observations, oral and written knowledge, practices and beliefs that promote environmental sustainability and responsible stewardship of natural resources through relationships between humans and environmental systems, and is applied to phenomena across biological, physical, cultural and spiritual systems.

ITEK has evolved over millennia, continues to evolve and includes insights based on evidence acquired through direct contact with the environment and long term experiences, as well as extensive observations, lessons and skills passed from generation to generation. ITEK is owned by Indigenous people, including but not limited to Tribal Nations, Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. There’s a few things that I quote that I want to highlight.

First, that Indigenous traditional knowledge, whether it’s explicitly ecological or not, is comprised of discrete bodies of knowledge. And these discrete bodies of knowledge emerged from specific landscapes, languages and communities. Communities include humans but includes other beings as well. And in this particular region, this traditional knowledge developed more than 16,500 years. We have archaeological evidence proving that Nez Perce folks and their ancestors have been here that long.

Of course, their oral histories say that they’ve been here even longer elsewhere in the United States. Now we have evidence for people being here 23,000 years. And again, oral histories would say even longer. So, it kind of blows away land registries and things like that and really affirms the validity of oral histories in this case. But the point I want to make is this knowledge is developed again, over 16,500 years or more, that is a lot of knowledge, that’s a lot of observation, that’s a lot of testing of knowledge, that’s a lot of refinement, of knowledge, etc.

So, I really want to emphasize again, these are discrete bodies of knowledge. It’s a massive, massive, massive history. And the reason I’m emphasizing this will become clear in just a moment. So, this is a quote from Duane Champagne. Duane is an Indigenous scholar. I believe he recently retired from UCLA as a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and he wrote a really great article a few years ago called “Centering Indigenous Nations Within Indigenous Methodologies”.

It’s a very, very thorough article that I strongly recommend for anybody interested in Indigenous research and Indigenous research methodologies. He looks at things from a very thorough legal and ethical perspective, considering things from many, many angles. But it’s a really important point here that I want to emphasize in this particular talk, and I’m just going to read the highlighted part here.

Before entering a tribal community, it’s necessary to learn as much as possible about the culture and issues confronting that community, especially if they’re relevant to a research program. Indigenous Studies perspective centers the stories, worldviews and political cultural identities of Indigenous peoples and communities. Investigates and interprets data according to the goals, values, culture, rights and interests of the Indigenous community.

So, I said previously that the Center for Native American Research and Collaboration is here to support researchers; we get a lot of contact from people. But we do want to emphasize that before you contact us, look into these discreet bodies of knowledge as much as you’re able. Now, a lot of that knowledge is sacred. A lot of that knowledge is understandably protected or not easily accessible.

But there’s also a lot of knowledge that is accessible in literature, in books and so forth. So, familiarize yourself with that to the greatest extent you possibly can before you come to us. You would do the same thing if you were looking at any other community in the world or dealing with any other body of knowledge in the world.

Right? You’d do literature, literature review. And, you know, you do as much research as you could before you dived fully into the project yourself. So, I urge you to prepare yourself as much as you can before you reach out to us, that’d be immensely helpful. Again, there are limits because as that White House statement said, you know, just ultimately the store is owned by tribes and not all of it is shared for good reason.

There’s a lot of it that can be accessed in the meantime. Our new body of literature we’re seeing, which is not necessarily traditional, but it seeks to bring in traditional insights into the academy, its indigenous research methodologies. I already mentioned Duane Champagne. He’s one of the people contributing this literature. There’s two others listed here, Maggie Kovach. She’s Plains Cree.

And also, for Verna Kirkness who’s Fisher River Cree is both of Canadian authors and both pretty prominent authors. So, these people and their peers have tried to bring certain principles that are informed by traditional knowledge into the academy to guide research that Indigenous scholars and people doing Indigenous research might be doing. So, these first set of principles here.

Are called OCAP. And we find this not only in Indigenous research, but they find in other fields that deal with data as well. But OCAP refers to ownership, control, access, and possession specifically regarding data. So, if you’re going to work with Indigenous peoples, think about the disposition of the data. So first of all, ask yourself who owns it? If it’s Indigenous knowledge, the presumption is that the tribe owns it.

However, as a researcher in the state of Washington, as soon as you write something down, that knowledge is technically copyrighted to the state. So, it’s something to be mindful of. And if you want to prevent the appropriation of knowledge, if it is something sacred, if it is something protected, if it is something that tribes want to maintain control over, that’s something you need to really reflect upon.

I’ll get to this a little bit later. That may mean that you need to establish a contract with the people you’re dealing with to be sure that the ownership status of that knowledge does not immediately default to you as a WSU employee. Control. That’s another question. Who controls the knowledge? In other words, there’s a question of what somebody can do with it, whether you’re the researcher or whether you’re a tribal member.

Access. Washington State University is an open access state. So that means that any of the data that are by default owned by Washington State University employees, can be accessed by the public. Well, that’s not always an easy thing to do, right? Frankly, I wouldn’t know how to do it. You know, you may need to maybe to conduct some FOIA searches and things like that.

So, it’s one thing to say the data is accessible, but we want to make sure that it’s easily accessible regardless of who owns it. Right now, there’s the issue of possession and you’re talking about digital data. Well, if you really want to have full control over it, that may mean it needs to be in your possession. Some tribes have the capacity to do that.

They may have their own servers, etc., or perhaps they would allow…they would want Washington State University to maintain possession of that data. That is something that WSU does, and then they work very carefully with the tribes to address those other issues of control, access, etc. So perhaps WSU will curate that data to set up mechanisms through which only certain people can access it.

People approved by the tribe and by the researchers, etc. So, these are all things to think about when you’re embarking upon a research project that involves these discrete bodies of knowledge that are traditionally historically owned by Indigenous peoples. So, a few other principles to keep in mind. These are really, really common, as you call the 4 Rs of Indigenous Research.

These particular four Rs were first articulated by Vernor Kirkness and Ray Barnhart way back in an article in 1991. This was a higher education article, a lot of Indigenous research does emerge from health research and from educational research, particularly in Canada. Since Kirkness published these, sometimes you see some different articulations. I think there’s a Marxist spin, for instance, where one of the answers is redistribution, and now sometimes people talk about 6 Rs or 7 Rs, etc. But I want to stick to the basics right now.

These 4 Rs, four principles of Indigenous research, respect, reciprocity, relationship and relevance. So, what Kirkness and other Indigenous scholars are trying to emphasize is that research should be respectful, right? Something that we emphasize at WSU is that your research should respect tribal sovereignty and not and not…this is maybe a little bit of a bold claim: it should not do anything to limit that sovereignty.

It should not reflect negatively upon the tribe in a way that could impact that sovereignty negatively. Research should be reciprocal. So, we know that as individual researchers, we get something out of our research, right? Very often it’s not money we make. We make nothing from our publications or nearly nothing from our publications. In most cases, there are exceptions, but we do advance in our careers, we do receive promotions, and that gives us raises.

That means we can lead comfortable lives, etc. Also, hopefully the university as a whole benefits from the research we do. Ideally, the world as a whole benefits from the research we do, and we want to make sure that that includes Indigenous peoples we’re working with. In fact, we should really be sure primarily that they are the people benefiting and we should consider that before we consider perhaps ourselves the university, etc. That’s not always the case.

In fact, as researchers in general, we’re just really not good about thinking about how our research is really going to impact the broader world, right? A lot of us know that feeling of writing a book or writing an article wondering if anybody is ever going to actually read it, right? We know there’s a massive library nearby here that’s just filled with books gathering dust that are going to have very little impact on the world whatsoever.

I’m sorry to be a downer for those of you who have one of those books sitting on the shelves, but I’m one of those people too. We want we want our work to have an impact. And that’s especially the case when you’re dealing with other peoples, peoples that have historically been treated badly by researchers in particular. This gets to the last…

The R: relevant. We want our work to be relevant. We should always want our work to be relevant no matter who we’re working with and to achieve that, we need to really prioritize relationship. We’re not good at doing that, we’re trained to prioritize the idea of objectivity, right? There’s a famous saying that pure objectivity is neither possible nor desirable.

I don’t know where that phrase comes from. I’ve actually tried to trace it back to its origin, and I don’t know who initially said it, but what it gets out of is the fact when we’re dealing with human beings, we’re dealing with living beings. Perhaps in general. We don’t want to treat them as objects or we’re not going to learn much at all.

Right? Because we want to know about their emotions and their desires, their needs and their motivations, etc. And similarly, we can’t ourselves act as objects. Yes, we should try to, in phenomenological terms, bracket our biases. We should try to be aware of the background that we bring into our research to influence what we do, etc. But we can’t turn that off.

We have to acknowledge that. And once we do that, we can understand that that research is relational. Indigenous peoples already know, in part because they’ve been communicating immediately and seeing the impact of their words immediately as oral peoples, as people who haven’t relied upon writing like Westerners often have. They also happen to live in very personal worlds.

Worlds where the vitality of other beings is taken much more seriously than we take in in mainstream society. We’re not very good at recognizing the…the personhood, even of our fellow humans, let alone the personhood of other living beings, right? And we all know that. People know that we’re not good at that. But in this field of research, we need to get a lot better.

So, relationship is important. But from a purely practical perspective, what that means is we need to enter into partnerships with tribal representatives, equal partnerships, regardless of degrees and other imaginary markers like that. So, 4 Rs, very important. Anybody who is evaluating your research from the perspective of Indigenous research methodology is going to be thinking about the 4 Rs.

Another really common concept that is emphasized is the idea of relational accountability. I think this is probably articulated most explicitly by Shawn Wilson, he’s another Cree scholar, an Opaskwayak Cree scholar. He wrote a book called Research is Ceremony, Indigenous Research Methods. Really, really excellent book, in my opinion. I know Zoe relies very heavily upon it as well.

But he wants to emphasize that if we take this idea of relationship seriously, and if we want to be sure that our research is reciprocal and relevant, etc., then we need to make sure that we are accountable to the people we’re in partnership with, right? Now, we know that we’re accountable to peer reviewers who are accountable to the people on promotion committees.

We’re accountable to people who review our grants from funding agencies, etc. But we need to make sure we are accountable to the partners in our research as well. We also need to keep in mind that those partners in research are accountable to their communities. So, you might be working with a tribal member from, say, Nez Perce Cultural Resources, you’re accountable to him or her, but they in turn are accountable to their entire community, to their entire sovereign nation.

And because they’re in a world where relationship is prioritized, in a world where they’ve established relationships with other beings for 16,500 years. That means they’re accountable not just to their fellow tribal members, but they’re accountable to other inhabitants of that landscape as well. They’ve done an excellent job of maintaining balance in those relationships for 16,500 years until the last few decades, where they’ve been completely screwed up by the intrusion of dams and farming pollution that runs off into the water and so forth.

So, I want to highlight like a really, really good example of how far accountability can be extended within Indigenous communities. Just by referring to the title of this recent movie, Covenant of the Salmon People. How many have seen this? Can you put up your little emoji hands or actual hands? If you’re in video…I see a few of you. We just had a showing of this, I guess on Monday, it’s now available on PBS.

And I’ll give you the slides. And if you click on that link, you can go to the PBS link, the covenant of the Salmon people. That title is really important. What the movie is about is the desire of the Nez Perce tribe to breach the four Lower Snake dams in order to try to recover salmon populations. But the reason that the movie is titled in this way is because it refers to ancient agreements with the salmon in which the salmon would give their lives for humans to nourish humans and in return the humans were expected to honor them and to care for them, etc., which again, they’ve done a great job of for 16,500 years.

But that’s gotten much more complicated lately. What that really emphasizes is that they are accountable to the salmon and they’re accountable for other beings to have relationships with as well. So again, we want to make ourselves accountable to research partners and we want to remember that they in turn, are accountable to the many parties we may not normally recognize in mainstream society.

So, we have some mechanisms to assure accountability. Of course, here at WSU we have a memorandum, a memorandum of understanding signed with almost 14 tribes. I think currently 13 are signed and the 14th will be signing very soon. That includes the Nez Perce, to whom I’ve referred but many other tribes throughout the region as well. Basically, west of the Rocky Mountains in the Pacific Northwest.

This MOU is an agreement between us and the tribes to support Native students, to support Native scholarship, to increase the presence of Indigenous peoples on campus. It’s what led to the creation of Native American Programs and Tribal Relations. That’s what led to the creation of Zoe Higheagle Strong’s position, etc. So that MOU means that we need to be accountable to those tribes and of course to other non-MOU tribes as well.

Of course, like all universities in the United States, we have an institutional review board. This is run by the Human Subjects Research Protection Program. So, this is a form of accountability that extends to any research involving human subjects. And often Native American research does. Some years ago, when they revised the federal policy for the protection of human subjects, the Health and Human Services recognized the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes and therefore emphasized that tribes have the right to oversee research themselves.

So, our IRB will want to make sure that you’re also deferring to tribal review boards when necessary. They’re not always called review boards, sometimes reviews overseen by, say, a tribal council, but many of them, not all of them, but most of them have some mechanisms for research review themselves. So, you may be required to get review from the Tribe any time research takes place on Tribal land.

And what I mean by Tribal land is within reservation boundaries. I add that that little detail, because of the Pacific Northwest tribal rights, do often extend beyond reservation boundaries to historical territories. And in particularly in particular, they extend to anything that may impact the land that they impact traditional subsistence rights, etc. But in the context the IRB on tribal review is required any time that research takes place within reservation boundaries.

Research also or excuse me, oversight from the tribe is also required. Any time that research is done with community members, that leads to generalizable claims about a particular tribe. So, if you’re interviewing a bunch of members of the Nez Perce tribe and say that and therefore you’re making some conclusions about Nez Perce health or Nez Perce perspectives or Nez Perce traditions or something like that, that means that you should get over you should get a research approval from the Nez Perce tribe.

In some cases, there are other approvals that can be required. If you’re doing some biomedical research, perhaps you’d be doing some research at a tribal clinic. Sometimes clinics are run by the tribes, but other times they are run jointly by Indian Health Services and the tribe. So that means you would also need IHS approval. And there are times too when there’s not necessarily a legal requirement to get approval from a tribal entity, but it’s strongly encouraged.

So, there are some urban Indian health centers that are not necessarily contracted with the IHS or otherwise funded by the IHS that do still offer research review and oversight. And we recommend that if you’re in one of those communities, you get that review as well. Of course, we’re talking about on federally recognized tribes in the U.S. Tribes are also recognized as sovereign entities in Canada, in other countries.

You know, this is just various in some cases, indigenous peoples have tribal sovereignty and therefore oversight of research involving them. In other cases, they don’t. And that’s something that IRB and our office can offer a little bit of guidance on.

So, besides the IRB, besides the MOU, you also now have Executive Policy 41. This is another policy that was signed about two years ago, the Policy on Tribal Engagement, Consultation, and Consent for Joint WSU Tribal Research Activities and Projects. And this pertains to all projects, not just human subjects research, but all of the research impacting tribes. Not going to read all the way through this, but once you get the slides, you can click on the link, and you can go read through

the entire policy. This is something that does not replace the IRB if you’re doing human subjects research, it is in addition to it. Again, it emphasizes the sovereignty of tribes and their right to over research…oversee research impacting them. So, in this case, this includes research that’s taking place in those historical territories to which tribes to maintain traditional rights.

So, if you’re doing environmental work and it’s going to impact the drainage, and in that drainage, there’s salmon that the tribe relies upon, that’s something that the tribe needs to be consulted upon and to which they need to potentially give approval.

Do notice the title of this policy: Engagement, Consultation, and Consent. So, if you’re engaging in this research, we recommend engagement one on one relational engagement where people are treated as equal partners. We added that word to this policy at the direction of one of our Native American Advisory Board representatives who emphasized that the federal government, the state government, require tribal consultation for projects like this.

But very often all that amounted to is just informing tribes that a project was taking place. So, this member of the Native American Advisory Board wanted to emphasize, we want to see something more than that, the actual engagement so that the tribe has an input. So, engagement, establishing establishment of relationships with tribal partners, consultation, and asking them for input, input from the beginning of the project design all the way through the end to how that analysis of the data is disseminated and consent is necessary for those projects that may require formal approval.

So again, I recommend that you read through this and we’re happy to offer guidance that pertains to any work that is done by WSU employees or led by WSU employees who may be on a multi-institutional grant. If WSU is the lead, then this policy applies. Here’s a few little highlights. So, it applies specifically to any activities that have potential for direct or foreseeable tribal implications, whether it is an educational program or a form of actual research. Might be student projects if those projects are going to be made public. Infrastructure projects, that’s something that a lot of a lot of WSU employees are engaged in. So, it’s not just a matter of research and consultation may lead to formal approval when it’s necessary. We also ask that you give us a heads up just so we have kind of a sense of what’s happening out there.

Sometimes the tribe has concerns they may contact us. It’s really helpful to know what project it might be referring to, but that is not required. So now I’ll talk specifically about the accountability that is maintained by the tribes themselves through their review boards or whatever mechanisms they have to oversee research on. Again, this is something that would follow engagement and consultation process going to vary from tribe to tribe during that process of engagement consultation, and they will tell you what their process is and whether full on consent from tribal authorities is required or not.

This says there is some cases there may be tribal department or program managers who can approve a project, but very often individuals to go to the top. It needs to go to a formally recognized review board or in some cases to the tribal council or to a tribal chairperson. It varies a great deal that can take time. Whether it goes to the review board or a committee or to a tribal council, they’re going to have their own schedule because these are sovereign

nations, they have a lot to do, right? So, you need to you need to be prepared for a bit of wait on this. You need to work according to their schedule. Just as an example, the Nez Perce Tribe in their guidelines suggests that this can take up to 90 days. So, if you want to work with tribes and you haven’t before, you need to know that this could be a time consuming process.

That’s just the reality. In some cases, it’s not just a matter of tribes signing off and giving consent to a project and then just giving their nod of approval. In some cases, you may need to establish actual contracts that get into the details and nitty gritty of a project as well. And a good example is when we’re talking about data.

I mentioned earlier that by default data belongs to the state because we’re all state employees. So, if you want to be sure that that data is going to be owned by the tribe legally or even co-owned by the tribe, you’re going to need to establish a contract that actually states that. Now a lot of researchers are really well meaning, and they will just write that into their research design and have that design approved by the Tribe.

But that doesn’t have any legal validity until it’s signed off by ORSO or by some other person who has the authority to approve that at WSU. So, you can’t just kind of make up your own contract; that needs to be approved by higher ups for it to valid. And I think he has a pretty good attitude. I can imagine the Office of Research or the Office of the Attorney General, you know, calling into question a contract that wasn’t signed by the right person.

But still, you want that to be as solid as you possibly can.

So, I’m moving into the section where I can address the sort of support that we can offer.

So, you’ve prepared yourself a little bit, you’ve thought about your project, maybe you have some experience doing this, some of the work, maybe you’re a tribal researcher yourself and if you want to reach out to us, well, here’s some guidelines. So, I’ve already indicated, and this is precisely why we’re having this conversation today. So, we hope before you come to us, you will familiarize yourself with

the relevant literature that could be indigenous research literature or could be available traditional knowledge that is out there, that has been published, that has been shared, etc. We realize that in your project you’re gonna have to go much further into that knowledge but, but hopefully you will learn what you possibly can before you begin on. Other things you can do is you can attend trainings, a training such as this one and we have many others.

We’ll get to that in just a couple of minutes. If you’re looking for training, for instance, a training on Executive Policy 41, you can send an email to If you have other help, general questions like dealing with a contract or something like that, as Sarah mentioned, you can contact me through

…The fact is you can contact anybody in our office and they will they will get back to you. So…I also see that that Terri Parr is on online with us now. And you can you can contact her as well. Hopefully it doesn’t mean she’s about to get flooded by emails. So also, of course, you know, consider these 4 Rs…Terri just waved. Thank you for being here Terri, we’re, very happy to have you. Consider these 4 Rs. Consider the disposition of data: OCAP.

Again, that may lead you to think about contracts and so forth. Engage experienced collaborators. That could be tribal researchers themselves. You know, there’s a lot of them right here at WSU. There’s a picture of them with some of them right there so they can go strong on the left. And Ryan Booth, who’s in history and Cheryl Ellen Wood, who’s in PPPA, Tony Brave in Digital Technology and Culture, Yvonne Sherwood, who I think is with us today, also in PPPA, Landon Charles just wrapping up a graduate degree and Emily Van Alston, in Anthropology. There are 47 Native American faculty and staff at WSU.

So, understand that there are researchers in our community who have expertise in this, in working with their own tribes and working with other tribes and of course, there are allies to have a lot of experience in working with these communities as well. Now, that said, don’t approach these people to add a token Native American to your project. Obviously, you know, they’re all very busy, etc. but do know that there are a lot of good people doing really amazing research with tribes, Native and otherwise at WSU.

So, there’s a lot of not big fan of the term experts. There’s a lot of these a lot of very experienced people out there that you can turn to for help. And finally, do think about what’s going to happen when your project is done right. If we take relationships seriously, we don’t just turn off relationships. We turn off the stove, right?

We all know that’s a bad thing to do with your friends, to do with your family members, to do with a pet, etc. Right? We don’t want to do that. We want to think about relationships long term. So don’t just complete your project and drop it and figure out a way to maintain contact. To think about what the impact of the research will be to look for a future project, to offer your services to the tribe, etc. That’s where a real relationship is.

If you can just turn it off and I’m not sure it was a real relationship to begin with. So, if you’re having trouble trying to accomplish any of these things before you reach us, then obviously give us a shout. We can direct you towards trainings and, if need be, we can direct you toward some literature, etc. Just make efforts to accomplish some of these things before you reach out to us, in particular, before you reach out for letters of support or letters of collaboration, formal meetings with tribal representatives, etc. We get a lot of these requests and it’s really hard for us to have a sense of how and whether we should support you until we have a little bit more

detail. So really think these things through before you contact us, please. I do want to emphasize, a lot of the requests we get emerged from NSF and other grants that have outreach components in them. Somebody will be reading through their…the research call and we’ll say, well, you know, there’s an opportunity here. You where we prioritize outreach to Native American peoples or underserved populations.

Then immediately the person looking at those contacts us and asks us for help. Well, before you do that, think about how are you really going to support Native American students. You know, just don’t throw in your grant that you’re going to support them. Ask yourself how you’re going to support them. So, we’d like to see some thought behind that. And of course, then we’re happy to help you think through the details.

And in this case, we want you to contact the director of Native Student Services, his colleague, Joelle Edwards. So again, we get a lot of those requests, but really, really ask yourself, what are you going to do for Native students before you before you give us a shout. Here are just some broader resources and suggestions. Again, of course, you can ask us in person, but here’s a few things to think about.

If you go to our website, there’s a page on, I think like guidance for collaborative research or something like that. On the left hand side. And there’s a lot more guidance on doing collaborative research with tribes. You can actually find a really good overview of the consultation process from the Washington State Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs. It’s pretty well thought out in collaboration with Tribal communities just recently, or our sponsor to talk with Zoe Higheagle Strong and Brian Cladusby who’s somebody who’s been involved with the National Congress of American Indians on consultation.

Emily graciously shared that link with me a little bit earlier. There it is. Look into this Indigenous research methodologies literature. Again, you can find this on our website. There’s a separate page on literature that’s a pretty extensive bibliography of Indigenous research policies and related literature. So that’s where you can find a full reference to Sean Wilson’s Research is Ceremony.

I also mentioned Maggie Kovach’s book, I think it’s Indigenous Research Methodologies, Duane Champagne, etc. You can find all of this at that link. And of course, there’s a lot more out there. There’s stuff being written and produced all the time. Come to our future trainings. There’s a lot more in the pipeline. I already mentioned EP 41 training.

The next one will be on March 29th…Or not March, excuse me, what month is this? November 29th! That will be in Butch’s Den. It will also be streamed online, and I believe our guest will be Caj Matheson, the Director of Natural Resources for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, who’s also a member of the Tribal council. So, he will offer input on consultation from his perspective as well.

So that’s the 29th. I don’t think we have a link available for that yet for you to sign up. But you can go to our website,, and right on that front page you can see upcoming events and that will be listed. There’s also…We have an affiliates and associates group for those who are engaged in research projects with tribes, ongoing research projects with tribes, and that is for faculty, that’s for staff and that is for people at WSU, that is for people elsewhere.

It is for people who are tribal researchers, whether they’re doing research on behalf of the tribe or individually. It’s a large group. I think there are almost 80 members right now. The deal is to meet once in the Fall, once in the Spring, and once in the summer in one of the tribal communities. You know, we’re living in a post-COVID world where everything is a little bit different.

But we do hope to resume that community meeting this summer. And of course, you know, there’s a lot of student events out there. I think we have well, we have over 800 students, Native American students at WSU right now. And so Native Student Support Services puts out a lot of events. We also have support people at all five campuses, including our online campus.

So, there’re events at the other campuses as well. So again, go to our website, you can find those listed. If you’re having trouble finding events on your campus, you can give me a shout and I can direct you towards some contacts for that. Here are a few specifics I already mentioned. There’s the Executive Policy 41 training on the 29th. This month, hopefully most people know, is Native American Heritage Month.

That means there’s a lot of events associated with that. We are in our second year of having Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass as the Common Reading. It’s a really highly regarded piece of Indigenous research. She spoke to the campus next year and there are lots of ongoing events associated with that. You can go to the Common Reading website for more information.

We will have an Indigenous research and projects conference on March 21st and 22nd. More details to come very soon. Our annual powwow on March 30th. And finally, here’s a flier on Native American Heritage Month. Where are we? Look, today’s the 8th. Yeah, I guess we’re getting through there, but you can see that there’s a few more student events coming up towards the end of the month. Today, there’s a beading workshop at 5:00 to 6:00 at the Native American Student Center. So, hey, if you’re on campus, Pullman campus, go check it out.

I do know there are things happening in Spokane and Vancouver as well.