Networking Indigenous Arctic and U.S. Southwest Communities on Knowledge Co-Production in Data Sciences


This award supports a Research Coordinating Network (RCN) that brings together scientists and Indigenous communities, Alaska Native communities and Tribal communities in the U.S. Southwest, to advance understanding of the challenges rapid socioecological change pose to food security and resilience in these communities. Indigenous knowledge and perspectives will be combined with scientific knowledge across the biological, geological, geographic, anthropological, and information sciences to enable a comprehensive overview of how different investigators and scholars, from different perspectives and different environments, approach the issues of food security and resilience. One of the key strengths of the RCN is the synergy it will generate between North and South and between Western science and Indigenous scholarship. In addition, the network incorporates insights from information science and data professionals to explore ways to link systems, data and perspectives from multiple domains, both Indigenous and scientific. The project team intends to increase sharing and address issues of Indigenous communities concerns over data ownership and access by developing more effective tools for sharing data in cyberspace and on social media. Exploring how to merge ideas from diverse groups will contribute to the advancement of both Convergence science and the co-production of knowledge with Indigenous communities. This award is part of NSF's effort to promote convergence. The project is convergent because it brings together a diversity of disciplines to concentrate on a question of critical social importance. Social, natural, and information scientists and Indigenous communities will focus on increasing our understanding of the impacts of rapid socioecological change in Indigenous communities from Alaska and the U.S. Southwest on food security and resilience in these communities. The project is convergent not just in how it combines scientific disciplines to address a societal problem, but also in how NSF might fundamentally think about the social construction of the scientific enterprise in the United States.

This RCN has the potential to add a new and fresh perspective to research on food security and resilience through exploration of the rapid social and environmental changes ongoing in the Arctic, by more effectively highlighting Indigenous sources of information. To broaden the perspective and insight into these issues, the RCN will connect Arctic Indigenous communities with tribes in the U.S. Southwest, mainly in Arizona and New Mexico. The RCN has three foci: 1) preservation, visualization, and sharing of Indigenous knowledge; 2) access to scientific data; and 3) Indigenous data sovereignty. The project will be largely driven and led by Indigenous organizations but will include interdisciplinary Western scientists focused on food security and resilience from both the social and physical sciences to discuss current research agendas, data availability, and encourage the direct engagement of Indigenous partners. One Broader Impact of the RCN is the creation of relationships between Indigenous communities living in different areas but experiencing rapid social and environmental changes. The RCN will also create a plan for preserving and visualizing Indigenous Knowledge and connecting it to scientific data.


Logistics Summary

IFKN has found that meeting on the land facilitates deeper conversations and understanding of the relational foundation of food sovereignty and resilience than would occur in a conference room. Participants learn about each other's work, which can be helpful in their own work in their own communities. IFKN has hosted three in-person meetings at the in Gila River Indian Community (March 2018), Tohono O’Odham Nation (March 2019), Nay’dini’aa Na’Kayax (June 2019) and sent a delegation to the Festival of Northern Fishing in Torino, Finland (September 2018). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have suspended in-person meetings for the last two years and are tentatively planning for an in-person meeting fall of 2022. During the past two years we have been conducting the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Access in Indigenous Communities in the Arctic and U.S. Southwest: A Comparative Landscape Analysis study (NSF-OPP Award # 2035161). Co-developed by Dr. Stephanie Carroll, Mary Beth Jager, and Dr. Dan Ferguson from the University of Arizona, Dr. Noor Johnson from the University of Colorado, and a six-person Indigenous research advisory council, the project focuses on concerns and questions of Indigenous Peoples from the Arctic and U.S. Southwest regions about the impacts of COVID-19 on food security and sovereignty.  We are in the process of finishing up analysis and disseminating the results.

Principal Investigators

Project PI(s)
Funded Institutions
University of Arizona
University of Colorado
Other Research Location(s)
Gila River Indian Community
Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions
Tohono O’odham Nation
Nay’dini’aa Na’Kayax’
Project Start Date
Sep 2017
Award Year