How to do research with Native communities: lessons from students’ experiences and Elders’ wisdom

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Native scholars are advocating for decolonized research that integrates western methods with Indigenous worldviews and epistemologies. The study presented here was conducted in the Midwestern USA with six graduate students, four recent alumni, and three community Elders with experience in health research. Our goal was to learn from their experiences in scholarship so as to inform future teachers and trainees. An iterative thematic analysis revealed participants’ unanimous emphasis on processes in trust-building. Said processes include gaining insights about personal biases, seeking preparatory and ongoing guidance from Elders and other experienced personnel, educating oneself about Native histories, and functioning as a humble learner. Learning about and enacting these behaviors and strategies can facilitate authentic collaborations. Lessons, suggestions, and resources shared by participants are informative toward creating guidelines for current and future educators in research methods, alongside the new students and professionals that they engage in instruction for such scholarship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-376
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and publication of this article: This work was supported through funding awarded to the first author by the Department of Family Social Science, University of Minnesota, USA.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • Indigenous communities
  • collaborative scholarship
  • community Elders
  • new professionals
  • students
  • trust-building


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