Non-settelr colonial research: Jenni Conrad, ‘Structures for Indigenous sovereignty in research: Disrupting settler colonial methods and relations in research partnerships’, Qualitative Research, 2022


Abstract: How can researchers in settler colonial states align their research and partnership practices to demonstrate reciprocity and solidarity with Indigenous communities and nations—especially researchers with dominant identities and training? This self-study investigates a recent research-practice partnership focused on Native curriculum implementation in schools on Coast Salish Lands (Washington State, USA). Using research memos, journals, and correspondence, I analyze my experiences as a white settler and dominantly-trained researcher conducting and relearning qualitative inquiry with eight Native education leaders during a participatory design-based study. Findings show that researcher actions and decision-making consistent with goals of solidarity and reciprocity depended on embedded structures of Indigenous sovereignty across multiple levels and phases of the project. Clarified through relationships with Indigenous advisors/co-designers and others, these structures created mechanisms of accountability to Coast Salish nations and knowledges that counteracted slippage into colonizing and less participatory research methods and relationships. By connecting researcher agency to specific research structures supporting Native sovereignty, this inquiry offers implications for participatory research and research-practice partnerships that support Indigenous sovereignty in ongoing and accountable ways.

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