The ever-passionate Anita Fredrick, president of Tribal Nations Research Group (TNRG) and CRCAIH Tribal Partner, gave a thoughtful presentation on why data is necessary to build stronger tribal communities. Research generally results in data that has the potential be used to inform tribal programs, health policy, grants, or future research endeavors. TNRG has worked for more than three years to achieve data sovereignty, and they have been working tirelessly in different ways to ensure that they have ownership of data produced from research projects so that they can manage and disseminate these results in culturally-relevant ways.
Anita has always enjoyed looking at data and spoke passionately about all tribal nations working to achieve data sovereignty because they have the right to own data relevant to them and apply it meaningful ways. Owning and understanding data means there will be an improved understanding of tribal resources and a more thorough look at the community to determine what is needed within the community. Data can also be used to evaluate tribal programs effectively and make necessary adjustments to the programs. Anita also spoke about the importance of tribal programs using their data and communicating this data with other programs to cooridante services. One of the most meaningful things Anita brought up was the fact that sometimes researchers use internet data to inform their research ideas or projects but this data often doesn't provide a full, accurate picture about tribal communities. A great example for this comes from Census data; this data does not fully capture the tribal communities that it measures. To combat these issues, tribes must know how to obtain and use their own data to improve their community.
Anita spoke to my heart a few different times. She discussed instances when someone claims something but she is skeptical of the claim without having actual facts or data to support their claim. I hear you on this, Anita! It can be frustrating when community perception can alter one's reality of what's actually happening. Inaccuracies like this can happen when tribal communities are unable to have a seat at the data table. It was hard not to jump up and cheer Anita on because she was speaking on things that are so important but not talked about enough, especially in tribal communities.
Stay tuned for more great discussion!
By Michaela Seiber, MPH