Research that Benefits Native People: A Guide for Tribal Leaders

September 2009

The National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center has released our five-module curriculum—Research that Benefits Native People: A Guide for Tribal Leaders.



                Download Module 1                                                            Letter from Joe Garcia, President, NCAI


How did the project begin?

Over the past three years through the financial support of the Administration for Native Americans , the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center and our partners, the First American Land-grant College and Organization Network (FALCON) and the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), have developed a curriculum and in-person training to equip tribal leaders, Native students, and other Native community members to understand and manage research and program evaluation. The curriculum was developed in response to requests from tribal leaders who wanted resources to make better decisions about the proposed research in their communities. It emphasizes the validity of Indigenous knowledge while highlighting the benefits of western research standards.


What is the curriculum content?

The curriculum consists of five separate modules, which address the most critical research issues in Native communities. They include:

        Module 1: Foundations of Research: An Indigenous Perspective     
--Introduction to how tribal values relate to research; these will be emphasized throughout the curriculum. 
--Introduction to the context and situations in which a tribal leader may need a working knowledge of research and related issues.

·       Module 2: Managing The Designing And Planning Of Research
--Designing a research study, including how-to lessons and practical considerations
--Guiding a research design process
--Developing a research plan

·       Module 3: Using Ethics As A Guide For Managing Research
--Identifying and understanding the basic ethical considerations related to conducting research
--Developing skills for applying ethical considerations to research

·       Module 4: Conducting Research In Partnership With Others
--Identifying the basic considerations involved in choosing and evaluating a research partner
--Identifying key characteristics of effective tribal research policy, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), cooperative agreements, and various research agreements
--Introduction to developing a skill set for contributing to a successful partnership

·       Module 5: Understanding Evaluation
--Designing and implementing a program evaluation
--Validating basic principles of culturally competent evaluation techniques in tribal communities
--Identifying what an evaluation can be expected to measure


How can I learn more about the project?

Please click here to download the project overview. The project overview contains information about the project and curriculum and additional information on why this project is important.


Why is this curriculum important to tribal communities?

Many Native people are wary of research and do not trust researchers. This is largely due to the fact that the term ‘research’ generally reminds Native people of the myriad projects historically conducted by outsiders that did not benefit Native communities, and even, in some cases, resulted in harm to Native communities. Through this curriculum, tribal leaders and Native communities can build their capacity to engage with research, allowing them to identify, access, and better understand data that may benefit their communities.

NCAI President Joe Garcia has written a letter applauding the efforts of the curriculum and expressing why the curriculum is an important tool for tribal leaders. To read the letter, please click here.


How is this curriculum offered?

This curriculum is typically presented as an in-person training for 20-30 tribal leaders, technical staff, and community members within a community over the course of two and a half days. The training is interactive, and supplementary handouts and activities are provided as real research examples and scenarios.


How can I locate the resources used for this curriculum?

We have compiled a resource guide associated with the curriculum. Please click here for a listing of the resources used?


Does the NCAI Policy Research Center have any additional resources on research regulation in American Indian and Alaska Native communities?

Yes, the NCAI Policy Research Center has commissioned two papers on research regulation in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities. Please click here to download both papers.


Who should I contact if my community is interested in learning more about the curriculum or would like to participate in a future training?

We are in the process of developing a plan and securing resources to offer the curriculum to interested communities. If your community is interested in additional information about the curriculum or would like to inquire about a future training, please contact Christina Daulton, Program Manager at