18-2 “Traditional Wisdom Our Strength” Resource Guide

Nov 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-2: Traditional Wisdom Our Strength, Resource Guides
By Richard Nichols (Santa Clara Pueblo), B.S., and Joan LaFrance (Turtle Mt. Chippewa), Ed.D., MPA



BASKET WEAVING DEMONSTRATION. Photo courtesy of Ed LeBlanc, Archivist, Institute of American Indian Arts.

Though based on Western research models, it has been said that evaluation is a practical craft; evaluators engage in the craft to contribute to program quality. Given this nod toward practicality, evaluators are free to explore cultural ways of knowing different from those traditionally taught in the Western epistemological tradition.

This is especially true when such exploration contributes to the usefulness and validity of evaluation within the program operations context. Just as action research models have evolved, evaluation practice has become more collaborative and responsive to evaluation stakeholders, including American Indian tribes, schools, and communities. Indeed, evaluation capacity building has become an embedded principle in such theoretical models as empowerment evaluation.

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)’s Indigenous Evaluation Framing project is described elsewhere in this issue. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project informs and creates evaluation designs that ensure validity and reliability based on indigenous ways of knowing and core values common to most, if not all, Indian communities. The following evaluation resources provide an overview of indigenous evaluation as an emergent field.


LaFrance, J. (Summer 2004). Culturally competent evaluation in Indian Country. New Directions for Evaluation, No. 102, 39-50. Special issue: In search of cultural competence in evaluation: Toward principles and practices. Jossey-Bass and the American Evaluation Association.

Conducting culturally competent evaluation in Indian Country requires an understanding of the rich diversity of tribal peoples and recognition of Indian self-determination and tribal sovereignty, according to Dr. Joan LaFrance’s chapter in this special issue. If an evaluation can be embedded within an indigenous framework, it is more responsive to tribal ethics and values. She says appropriate tribal protocols should be utilized for evaluation and argues that an indigenous orientation to evaluation has specific implications for the use of appropriate methodological approaches, for partnerships between the evaluator and the program, and for reciprocity.

LaFrance, J. & Nichols, R. (In Press). Summary report: Stories from the focus groups on an indigenous framing for evaluation. Alexandria, VA: American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC).

Developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), this document highlights regional focus groups conducted as phase one of the Indigenous Evaluation Framing project. Three focus groups were conducted in the Southwest, Northwest, and Central Plains region inviting American Indian cultural traditionalists, educators, and evaluators to consider how to assess program merit or worth from a traditionalist perspective.

Based on a concept of evaluation as a joint journey between the evaluator and evaluation stakeholders to “create knowledge about a program,” the focus group participants’ information is being used to develop a training curriculum on indigenous evaluation. Information was collected about tribal experiences with evaluation and cultural values regarding knowledge, judgment, and assessment of what is valued in Indian education. The stories also provide advice on practice and methodological implications for evaluation in American Indian communities. The Summary Report will be available at the AIHEC website (www.aihec.org) in Winter 2007.

The National Science Foundation, Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Research, Evaluation, and Communications. The Cultural Context of Educational Evaluation: The Role of Minority Evaluation Professionals. Workshop Proceedings, June 1-2, 2000.

Since the 1990s, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been concerned with increasing the capacity of evaluation practitioners in order to provide high quality evaluation services more responsive to minority concerns and community needs. This 2000 workshop was held to discuss issues related to increasing the supply of minority evaluators for mathematics and science programs and projects. Since then, the senior staff of NSF’s Division of Research, Evaluation, and Communications has worked with the American Evaluation Association (AEA) to promote more minority participation in AEA’s annual meetings and in its publications. NSF is in the process of developing theoretical models for training and capacity building in evaluation — models that will incorporate contextual factors and their influence on the process of evaluation.

Find similar:

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.