This project is developing a set of considerations for how Earth system science programs can implement data sovereignty principles in any efforts that involve collaborations with Indigenous communities or data collected on Indigenous lands or related to Indigenous resources.

Indigenous data sovereignty (IDS) is the idea that all data related to Indigenous peoples, including their lands and resources, are subject to the laws and governance structures of those people, including data related to environmental observations whether derived from local observations, scientific instrumentation, or other sources.

As collaborations between Indigenous and Earth system sciences grow in number and scope, practical implementation of Indigenous data governance (IDGov) systems becomes increasingly important. Ensuring that IDGov is appropriately implemented can help to ensure that Earth sciences do not inadvertedly perpetuate harm through scientic collaborations. While best practices to protect indigenous data sovereignty have been established (for example, the CARE principles), we do not yet have guidance on how best to implement such principles for Earth system science datasets with the flexibility to be culturally appropriate and context specific. 

This research project will:

  1. leverage an NSF-funded ER2 project entitled “Responsible Research and Engagement Practices for Indigenous Data Governance in Earth Science Institutions,” led by NEON, to expand Indigenous data governance considerations to NCAR and other Earth system science institutions,

  2. advance an existing Unidata effort, NSF solicitation CISE 21-533, entitled "A Sovereign Network System for Environmental Monitoring, Data and Information Exchange," with tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), specifically in collaboration with the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) and Navajo Technical University, 

  3. convene a workshop to facilitate coordination across TCUs placing them in a leadership role in directing IDGov practices in data collection, storage, and sharing across Earth science institutions. The workshop will be convened in collaboration wit SIPI and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). 

A partner project, Growing Collaborations, co-led by Michael Johnson and Danica Lombardozzi, will serve as a demonstration project for implementing best practices for Indigenous Data Sovereignty based on the CARE and FAIR principles.

The outcome of the one-year project will be to get the tools for data management systems into the hands of Indigenous researchers to actively control storage and access to Earth science data, enabling a research network designed with embedded community controls. Out of this will emerge a set of considerations for how best NCAR, as well as other Earth science institutions such as NEON and atmospheric science departments at UCAR membership universities, can implement the CARE principles for IDGov in any scientific efforts that involve collaborations with Indigenous communities or data collected on Indigenous lands or related to Indigenous resources.