Tuesday June 25, 2024

The Conversation

Non-Indigenous scientists increasingly realize that Indigenous data are key to solving today’s environmental challenges.

Indigenous Peoples have generated and cared for data for millennia, passing down knowledge through traditions like storytelling, art and language. This knowledge is crucial to Indigenous ways of life, including the sustainable stewardship of ecosystems.

With partnerships between non-Indigenous scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders proliferating, incorporating Indigenous data sovereignty (IDS) — the right of Indigenous Peoples to govern the collection, ownership and application of their data — is vital for successful collaborations and conservation.

Non-Indigenous scientists have a troubling track record of unethical research practices.

Examples of treating Indigenous knowledge holders as research subjects are common and often lead to exploitation, mistrust and ongoing power imbalances that persist today. For instance, Indigenous data — which includes information about an Indigenous Nation and its land, resources, demographic data, education levels, sacred land maps, songs, social media, and beyond — may be used without proper acknowledgement constituting the theft and exploitation of Indigenous knowledge and resources.

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