Examing the Impacts of Research and a Thank You

Nov 15th, 1992 | By | Category: 4-3: Indian Research, Editor's Essay
By Paul Boyer

For more than a century scholars have been intrigued by native Americans. Indians have been so thoroughly and repeatedly examined that some com­munities could joke that each home contained its own resident anthropologist.

But as years passed many Indian reservations became increasingly frustrated, not just that they were being studied, but that they were not benefiting from all of this scrutiny. The growing sentiment was that an outside scholar would arrive on a reservation, stay just long enough to collect data, then leave and never return.

There was also concern that the research did not accurate­ly reflect changes in native American society. While reser­vations contain ample evidence of strength and hope, the tendency among scholars was to accentuate the negative.

In response, some tribes began exerting control over this outside research, requiring scholars to get approval before tribal members could be used as subjects.

But tribes, assisted by their tribal colleges, are also now taking the next step by conducting their own research and working to help define the research agenda. And in doing so, they are making scholarship a tool that can work for their needs.

In this issue, we examine this movement and offer a few examples of its impact.

We are especially grateful to Dr. Karen Swisher, associate professor at Arizona State University and editor of the Journal of Indian Education. Her knowledge as an editor and scholar was invaluable as the contents and focus of the issue were being developed. She also graciously agreed to offer some of her observations in our introductory essay.

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