Nikani’ kapawe

Nikani’ kapawe

Stand in front

Science led by communities

Researchers have a history of studying Native American people without their involvement or consent, treating Indigenous communities as research subjects rather than partners. Such studies often present skewed or incorrect results, findings that do not take into consideration the knowledge, values, or worldview of Native people. 

“I remember as a kid when we were at the ceremonial grounds at White Oak, a researcher from a university was there. He had spent a couple weeks with some of our old men and old ladies interviewing them. The researcher took those stories back with him, now stored in a distant location unavailable to us. He used only what he wanted and got a lot wrong. How can someone spend a brief time among us and think they know what questions to ask or how to interpret our lifeways?”

–Ben Barnes, Shawnee Tribe Second Chief 

By partnering with scientists, the Shawnee Tribe aims to assist researchers. They help to identify questions and approaches that are relevant and respectful to the tribal community. 

“We now expect to be included in the research team in a meaningful role, where we as a community can be involved in the design and delivery of research. On a deeper level, we have been systematic observers for millennia, contributing to science and technology. We support Indigenous scholarship that reflects and responds to our concerns and that is valuable to us.” 

–Ben Barnes, Shawnee Tribe Second Chief