About Us

marksnow[1] INBRE Funded for its initial 4 years, AIRA today is an Independent Native 501c3 organization with 1500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous members from around the globe. The Board of Directors includes members who are enrolled in several tribes across America. The mission of the American Indigenous Research Association is to promote, foster, and apply Indigenous Research Methods — methods based in the paradigms, philosophies, knowledge systems, values and beliefs of Indigenous communities, engaged in research — to any and all research carried out with Indigenous peoples. The American Indigenous Research Association strives to promote community and individual development, self-determination, and decolonization of Indigenous peoples and goes beyond the methods of CBPR.

AIRA aims to educate the research community, the public, and Indigenous communities about respectful and ethically sound investigations from an Indigenous paradigm.

Indigenous research methodologies are place-based methods of gathering and disseminating data with attention to the paradigm (world view), and cultural values of the researcher, and the community where the research is taking place. Indigenous Research Methodologies 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 our own cultures, with the source of the research data, and with the person who knows or tells the story that provides information. The researcher acknowledges a personal relationship with the story itself and how it is interpreted by both the teller and the researcher. In colonial academic models, the research project and data are separated from the researcher, who is merely an onlooker.

Though the data collected by Indigenous Research Methodologies can be analyzed quantitatively as well as qualitatively, just like data collected by Western research methods, the acknowledged relationship between researcher and data naturally challenges Western research paradigms. But Indigenous Research Methodologies are powerful and worthwhile despite this challenge, because they provide vital opportunities to contribute to the body of knowledge about the natural world and Indigenous peoples.

Our inaugural conference was held in the fall of 2013 at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The 2014 Meeting was held Oct 10-11 and the 2015 meeting from October 22-24, also at SKC. Thanks to our funders: Montana INBRE, and Alaska EPSCoR.

Citations for the text in the first paragraph of this page: Margaret Kovach, 2010. Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Context;  Linda Tuhiawi Smith, 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies; Shawn Wilson, 2008.  Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods.

Mission

The mission of the independent organization American Indigenous Research Association is to promote, foster, and apply Indigenous Research Methodologies — methods based in the philosophies, knowledge systems, values and beliefs of Indigenous communities, as a whole as well as in regards to the particular Indigenous peoples and communities engaged in a particular program of research — to any and all research carried out on or with Indigenous peoples. The American Indigenous Research Association strives to promote community and individual development, self determination, and decolonization of Indigenous peoples

We educate the research community as well as the public about the need for research on or with Indigenous peoples to be carried out in a manner which is respectful and ethically sound from an Indigenous perspective.  We promote initiatives and practices that provide a mechanism whereby Indigenous peoples can participate in and direct such research and the agendas that drive it.

AIRA members will provide leadership to both Indigenous and research communities by (1) providing a forum for discussion of Indigenous Research Methodologies, (2) encouraging publication of scholarly work on Indigenous Research Methodologies and their application, (3) collaborating with Indian tribes and tribal colleges to augment development of research proposals and to contextualize knowledge that has been generated by traditional Western research, (4) consulting with members of Institutional Research Boards (IRB) in institutions of higher learning, and other non-Indigenous researchers, to help them develop research agendas and protocols that use Indigenous Research Methodologies for all projects related to or carried out in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, and (5) educating students and scholars in the fields of Science and Humanities, including but not limited to the disciplines of anthropology, history, and ethno-psychology, about the validity and scope of Indigenous research methodologies and its vital importance to work in Indigenous communities such as Indian Reservations.

Leadership

Ren Freeman (President and Chair)
Eastern Shoshone
University of Montana
Anthropology