Reconciling america’s research response to binge drinking among american indians and alaskan natives

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Binge drinking among American Indians and Alaskan Natives is an acute health issue in the United States. The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University convened a one-day meeting with North American experts to identify key elements for developing research methodologies to measure treatment outcomes founded in Indigenous cultural ways of knowing. Three were identified: recognize culture as treatment, overcome Western interpretations of research, and apply culturally appropriate research methodologies. Common across the elements is respectful relationship development, which mirrors the efforts of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was established to address the destructive legacy of residential schools among First Nations. Reconciling America’s research response to binge drinking among American Indians and Alaskan Natives requires a similar commitment.

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This article explores the application of two-eyed seeing in the first year of a three-year study about the effectiveness of cultural interventions in First Nations alcohol and drug treatment in Canada. Two-eyed seeing is recognized by Canada’s major health research funder as a starting point for bringing together the strengths of Indigenous and Western ways of knowing. With the aim of developing a culture-based measurement tool, our team carried out an Indigenous-centred research process with our interpretation of two-eyed seeing as a guiding principle. This enabled us to engage in a decolonizing project that prioritized Indigenous methodologies and ways of knowing and knowledge alongside those of Western science. By concentrating on Indigenous governance in the research process, our project supported efforts at Indigenous cultural renewal. Two illustrations are offered, our team’s reconceptualization of Western derived understandings of data collection through Indigenous storytelling and our research grant timeframe with Indigenous knowledge gardening. This article contributes to the Indigenous research and policy literature which is lacking documentation about how Indigenous communities and research teams are benefitting from two-eyed seeing.