Researchers Meet to Design Protocol

Aug 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-1: Honoring Our Students, Tribal College News
By Cheryl Redhorse Bennett, AIHEC research assistant

Historically, Indian people have been the subjects of extensive research rather than the key players implementing research studies. In response to the cultivation of research by Natives and with concern for Natives being studied, appropriate protocols are evolving.

To that end, Haskell Indian Nations University (Lawrence, KS) hosted a conference last April entitled Research Review in Indian Country: Setting our Future Agenda.

The conference was sponsored by Haskell, the Indian Health Service, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Human Research Protection.

Inside the historic walls of Haskell, approximately 100 researchers and investigators from tribes, federal government agencies, tribal colleges and universities, and students gathered to discuss pertinent issues in research involving American Indians. The main objective of the conference was to build the capacity of tribal colleges to review and conduct research. Additional objectives were:

  • To appreciate the special research‑related concerns and issues of tribes, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), and other American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.
  • To understand the basic regulatory requirements for research concerning protection of human participants.
  • To explore how small institutions such as tribes, TCUs, and other Native communities can meet both their special concerns and the regulatory requirements.
  • To explore how to conduct research in TCUs while protecting the culture, society, and individual participant.
  • To learn about, and how to apply for, Federal Wide Assurances (FWAs), a formal written, binding, commitment that assures the research institution’s commitment to protect human subjects.

During the three-day event, participants and speakers promoted awareness and understanding between researchers and investigators involved in conducting human subject-related research.

Participants learned various methods of complying with Institutional Review Boards (IRB), the oversight committees charged with protecting the rights of human research subjects who participate in research activities. Ideally, tribes and tribal colleges would potentially create their own Institutional Review Boards.

The conference also included presentations on the importance of research in Indian country, a history of American Indians and Alaska Natives in research, cultural issues in research, the role of tribal sovereignty roles in research, roles of students in research; the relationship between federal agencies and tribal colleges and universities, IRB 101, and a grant writing session.

Among the speakers were Dr. Karen Swisher, president, Haskell Indian Nations University; Dr. Gerald Gipp, executive director, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium; Dr. Susan Faircloth, AIHEC’s director of policy analysis and research; Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, Office of Human Research Protection; Phillip S. Deloria, American Indian Law Center; and Dr. William Freeman of Northwest Indian College.

For further information on the conference contact Freda Tapedo at Haskell Indian Nations University <> or Dr. Susan Faircloth at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium <>.

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