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Indigenous Data Sovereignty

Indigenous Data Sovereignty

Indigenous data sovereignty is the right of Indigenous people to own, control, and access data about their communities, lands, and culture. This includes both individual and collective rights to data access and to privacy. The term sovereignty refers to Indigenous Nations being sovereign in their governance. Data sovereignty extends this concept to Indigenous data and knowledge as well. 

The Indigenous data sovereignty movement strives to ensure the recognition of Indigenous people and communities as the ultimate authority in their data and knowledge, and to redefine the relationship between Indigenous peoples and research from being participants or subjects to being meaningful partners and co-researchers. 

What is Indigenous Data?

Indigenous data is any data, knowledge, or information created by, for, with, or about Indigenous people or communities. This can include: 

  • Data about Indigenous environmental resources. This would include topics such as land management and history, geological data, and information on wildlife and water sources. 
  • Data about Indigenous peoples, social groups, communities, and Nations. This would include demographics, health information, employment data, and education statistics. 
  • Data from Indigenous communities. This includes data relating to ancestral knowledge and cultural practices, such as languages, songs, stories, oral histories, art, and images. 

Indigenous data can manifest as photographs, videos, sound recordings, textual documents, data sets, and more.