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Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in cooperation with the American Indigenous Research Association (AIRA) wishes to continue their partnership and hold the 4th conference in 2016 focused on Indigenous research methodologies and methods. The theme for the 2016 Conference is: Research from the Field: How to apply Indigenous Research Methods to research proposals in STEM and Health.

The conference continues to empower Indigenous researchers, communities, and tribes in the United States and around the world, as evidenced by the attached appendix documents regarding membership and conference evaluations.  For the past three years, the Conference activities and follow-up have continued to make an impact on graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculties from mainstream universities, and tribal colleges and universities.

Speakers from the last three conferences have impacted the paradigms, theories, methods in which research, researchers, and faculty have partnered with Indigenous communities to help solve problems of health disparities, climate change, and environmental issues. Indigenous research methodologies is an emerging field of research that seeks to research issues in partnership with researchers and Indigenous peoples, various cultures and subcultures, how they live in the world, and issues of cultural identity and displacement.

Application of Indigenous research methodologies includes researcher preparation and the experiential aspect of the research. It is about a process grounded in inward knowledge (Kovach, 2009). It is going inward into oneself and finding out who we are as researchers and what are our experiences. “The source of a good research project is the heart/mind of the researcher…a good heart guarantees a good motive, and good motives benefit everyone involved” (Wilson, 2008, p.60).

Notes on Previous Conferences

Abstracts from the 2015 conference included papers on Historical Trauma, renal disease, suicide, child rearing in traditional communities, Enhancing Social Work Practice in Indigenous Communities. Additionally, papers were presented in STEM subjects as well.

Participant comments from the 2014/15 Conference included:

  • “Restore self in respect to understanding your Indigenous self”
  • “So inspiring!”
  • “Restorative for me.”
  • The frequent use of “love” throughout
  • Opening the meeting with the Elders and children was a highlight for many. “This is the best place to find and grow your community…”         
  • There is a tremendous amount of emotion in the remarks about individual sessions and the meeting overall:
  • “restore self in respect to understanding your Indigenous self”;
  • “So inspiring!”;
  • “Restorative for me.”
  • Opening the meeting with the Elders and children was a highlight for many. “This is the best place to find and grow your community…”
  • “You absolutely MUST attend. This is the most concentrated critical mass of thinkers about Indigenous Research we have in MT – in the US. Absolutely awesome, essential gathering… “
  • "It was excellent – you should go! The speakers were dynamic & varied, the conversations with my fellow participants were inspiring. Rarely have I been around so many like – minded dedicated Indigenous people. Go!"

Significance & Innovation

Colleagues from higher education repeatedly expressed the influence AIRA conference sessions were having on their thinking about current courses they teach, on the development of new courses, and on the sense of community they felt would support their efforts. By applying Indigenous research methods, Researchers will be able to work with communities to help find solutions to problems.

The AIRA conference is creative in demonstrating to Natives and non-Natives alike how Indigenous research methods differ from the Western approach because they flow from tribal knowledge. Information is gained through relationship — with people in a specific Place, with the culture of Place as understood through Indigenous cultures, with the source of the research data, and with the person who knows or tells the story that provides information. The researcher acknowledges passion for the work, a personal relationship with the story itself and how both the teller, and the researcher interpret the data. In colonial academic models, the research project and data are separated from the researcher, who is merely an onlooker.

Primary Contact

Lori Lambert lori_lambert@skc.edu