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Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories: Opportunities and Challenges



There is increasing interest by governments and other service providers in the potential for Indigenous evaluation methods and approaches to support evaluation of programs and services in a way that is culturally appropriate and responsive. Indigenous governments and organizations are using Indigenous evaluation methods and approaches to inform their own program and service delivery. This article explores the current status of Indigenous evaluation in the Northwest Territories, the opportunities for expanding the use of Indigenous evaluation, and some of the challenges that must be addressed.
Indigenous Evaluation in the Northwest Territories:
Opportunities and Challenges
Debbie DeLancey
Hotıì ts’eeda: NWT SPOR SUPPORT Unit
Abstract: ere is increasing interest by governments and other service providers
in the potential for Indigenous evaluation methods and approaches to support the
evaluation of programs and services in a way that is culturally appropriate and
responsive. Indigenous governments and organizations are using Indigenous evalu-
ation methods and approaches to inform their own program and service delivery.
is article explores the current status of Indigenous evaluation in the Northwest
Territories, the opportunities for expanding the use of Indigenous evaluation, and
some of the challenges that must be addressed.
Keywords: Canadas north, co-creation, culturally responsive evaluation, Indig-
enous evaluation, NWT Evaluation Symposium, self-government
Résumé: Les gouvernements et autres fournisseurs de services accordent de plus en
plus d’intérêt aux méthodes et approches autochtones en matière d’évaluation, a n
de mieux appuyer lévaluation de programmes et de services de manière respectueuse
et adaptée à la culture autochtone. Les gouvernements et les organisations autoch-
tones utilisent des approches et des méthodes autochtones en matière dévaluation
pour éclairer leurs décisions concernant les programmes et services pour lesquels ils
sont responsables. Larticle explore l’état actuel de l’évaluation autochtone dans les
Territoires du Nord-Ouest, les possibilités d’élargissement de l’usage de l’évaluation
autochtone et certains des dés qui doivent toujours être relevés.
Mots clé: Nord du Canada, cocréation, évaluation adaptée à la culture, évaluation
autochtone, symposium dévaluation des TNO, autonomie gouvernementale
ere appears to be a revitalized interest in evaluation across northern Canada,
with a focus on Indigenous evaluation. Participation in the 2018 NWT Evalua-
tion Symposium, the recent re-establishment of a Yukon Chapter of the Canadian
Evaluation Society, and the recent Request for Proposals issued by Inuit Tapiriit
Kanatami for the development of a ve-year Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
Plan, all point to this renewed focus (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 2019). In the North-
west Territories (NWT), this interest is manifesting itself in the context of a seis-
mic shi in the shape of governance in the NWT and an emerging interest in the
role that Indigenous evaluation may play in this new landscape. Speci cally, the
Corresponding Author: Debbie DeLancey, D. J. DeLancey Consulting, 117 Moyle Drive, #6,
Yellowknife, NT, X1A 0B6;
© 2020 Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation / La Revue canadienne d’évaluation de programme
34.3 (Special Issue / Numéro spécial), 492–512 doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837
Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 493
introduction of Indigenous evaluation approaches has great potential to advance
the  eld of evaluation and contribute to the utilization of evaluation  ndings in
policymaking in the NWT and across northern Canada.
In this paper I present the historical context of evaluation in the NWT and
explore the potential for Indigenous evaluation to make a major contribution
to the current and emerging governance of public and Indigenous programs in
the territory. I consider the challenges to full utilization and implementation of
Indigenous evaluation and propose opportunities to address those challenges in
the context of current policy and program initiatives.
I am not an expert on Indigenous evaluation, nor can I ever become one.
I am a settler who has made the NWT my home since the 1970s, generously
welcomed as a resident during this time on the traditional territory of Chief
Drygeese, the home of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, in Yellowknife; in
the community of Radeli Ko’e (Fort Good Hope), home of the Kasho Got’ine;
and in Baker Lake and Iqaluit in what is now Nunavut. e perspective I o er
in this article is that of a non-Indigenous evaluator who is a long-term resident
of the NWT with a career that spans more than 40 years of working with Indig-
enous organizations and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).
During that time, I have had the privilege of working for and with a number of
Indigenous organizations and communities, and collaborating with Indigenous
colleagues and Elders on research related to socio-economic assessment of
resource development projects, community-based research, documentation of
traditional knowledge, community development, and issues related to health
and well-being. Any insights that I have developed about the co-creation of re-
search approaches and the potential for Indigenous evaluation to inform public
discourse in the North I owe to the wisdom and patience of those Indigenous
colleagues who taught me more about other ways of knowing, other research
methods, and other modes of knowledge translation than what I brought with
me from my training as a social scientist.
Some of the information and many of the insights contained in this article,
particularly those dealing with the history of evaluation in the NWT, have been
gleaned from my role as a practitioner in the NWT and from discussions with
people in public and Indigenous governments and non-government organiza-
tions, as there is relatively little published information available.
Occupying a land mass of 1.346 million square kilometres, the NWT has a popu-
lation of just under 45,000 residents, of whom approximately 50% are Indigenous
(First Nations, Inuvialuit, or Métis) (Statistics Canada, 2017).  is dispersion
of a small population over a large territory with limited transportation infra-
structure creates governance challenges in and of itself, but governance in the
NWT is made more complex because it is continually evolving as Indigenous
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
494 DeLancey
governing organizations (IGOs) negotiate and nalize agreements dealing with
lands, resources, and self-government. At the time of writing, twelve IGOs had
completed, or were currently engaged in, negotiation of land claims agreements
(three completed), land claims and self-government agreements (one completed),
self-government agreements (one completed, six in negotiations), and/or land,
resources, and self-government agreements (three in negotiations). An additional
three communities are seeking governing powers at a community level, unique
to the interests of their membership (GNWT, n.d. b). Each of these agreements
provides the IGO with some degree of jurisdiction and authority over a broad
range of governance areas, typically including management of land, water, renew-
able resources and harvesting, heritage, education, and a range of social programs.
e GNWT is a public government with province-like powers. But as In-
digenous governments complete self-government agreements, jurisdiction over
many of the powers and duties of a provincial-style government is available to
be drawn down by Indigenous governments. ere is no common template for
how this will happen, or for what mechanisms may be put in place to provide for
shared jurisdiction in areas of common interest. Further, since NWT land claims
and self-government agreements have been completed over a period of many
years (beginning with the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement in 1984), the
scope of topics and level of detail included in those agreements have evolved as
the focus has broadened from dealing only with land rights, to the broader range
of self-governing authorities outlined above.
At the community level, GNWT legislation provides for the creation of
charter communities, which allow Chiefs and Councils to assume the role of a
municipal corporation, thereby expanding their authority to include all aspects of
municipal-type government responsibility, ranging for example from operation of
water treatment facilities to provision of sport and recreation programs.
e result is a continually changing, and potentially confusing, governance
environment where many government programs and services will be delivered
dierently in dierent regions of the NWT. Some possible scenarios for how this
might evolve include the following:
some programs remain under GNWT jurisdiction and will be delivered
by GNWT, for example, health (with the exception of traditional heal-
ing), but with the potential for regionally diering delivery mechanisms
to be negotiated;
Indigenous governments will draw down jurisdiction for some programs
as provided for in self-government agreements and become fully respon-
sible for designing and delivering those programs, for example, early
childhood education, resulting in dierent approaches among regions;
Indigenous governments may choose not to draw down jurisdiction in
the near future, in which cases GNWT may continue to deliver programs
through a contractual arrangement, such as the Tłı̨ chǫ Intergovernmental
Services Agreement (ı̨ chǫ Government, 2003);
© 2020 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837
Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 495
Indigenous governments may draw down jurisdiction in areas where
their authority within self-government agreements has been limited, for
example, in the Délînê Final Self-Government Agreement, jurisdiction
with respect to kindergarten to Grade 12 education of students must be
exercised within a curriculum framework and graduation requirements
established by the GNWT (Délînê Got’ine Government, 2013).
Given the nature of rights negotiations between Indigenous nations and Canada,
it is evident that governance in NWT will be in a state of evolution for years to
come. Further, if the GNWT acts on the newly stated priority of the 19
th Legis-
lative Assembly to implement UNDRIP, this may result in changes to current
GNWT negotiating mandates and broaden the scope of future self-government
agreements (Legislative Assembly of NWT, 2019). is presents a number of chal-
lenges for the systematic use of evaluation to provide insights into the delivery of
government programs and services. With respect to the role of the GNWT, each of
the scenarios outlined above will require a dierent evaluation approach depend-
ing on the extent of GNWT authority and involvement and the development of
appropriate methods, thus potentially requiring a larger investment in evaluative
activity to support the disparate needs. For Indigenous governments, there will
be a need to build evaluation capacity. All parties will be challenged to  nd com-
mon ground in establishing theories of change and shared outcomes for territorial
programs that are delivered dierently among regions, and they will need to  nd
ways to collaborate to determine what policies and guidelines will be applied, to
reach common agreement on what methods and approaches are appropriate and
eective in each governance context outlined above, and to identify the parties
best suited to commission and implement evaluation in each setting.
e evaluation function in the GNWT was formally established in 1995, when a
program design and evaluation unit was established within the Financial Man-
agement Board Secretariat (now the Department of Finance). Over time, this
function has been combined with the budgeting function in Finance, or housed
within the Department of Executive, but the fundamental mandate to promote
evaluation within GNWT has remained unchanged. e unit has produced a se-
ries of manuals, guides, and workbooks to support program design and evaluation
activities within the GNWT (GNWT, 2014). ey also provide training, ranging
from short workshops to oering support for GNWT employees to engage in
graduate-level coursework. Although the evaluation resources are publicly avail-
able, outreach beyond GNWT employees has not been a major focus of the units
ere was a stand-alone NWT Chapter of the Canadian Evaluation Society
(CES) for many years, but in the early 2000s the local capacity to maintain a
separate chapter was deemed insucient, and NWT joined the Alberta Chapter
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
496 DeLancey
of CES. Although some eorts were made to reach out to the non-government
sector and Indigenous organizations, membership was composed primarily of
federal and GNWT employees, and a few private-sector consultants, mostly resi-
dent in Yellowknife.
Historic challenges to Indigenous evaluation in NWT
Until recently, the promotion and utilization of evaluation have generally not
been a priority of Indigenous governing organizations in the NWT. As has been
noted by many authors in Canada and elsewhere, Indigenous communities and
organizations have developed a deep distrust of research, including evaluation, as
a result of a history of extractive research (Gaudry, 2015; National Collaborating
Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2013). Larry Bremner noted in a keynote re ection
at the NWT Evaluation Symposium in May 2018 that evaluators “have stolen their
knowledge, we’ve taken their stories and we haven’t returned anything of bene t.”
is distrust and skepticism about the usefulness of research and evaluation
have been made worse by the language of evaluation. Terms like “logic model”
and “indicator” are not generally meaningful for people who are untrained in
evaluation and research methods, and they may seem even more alienating to
people whose rst language is not English (DeLancey, Radu, Enosse, & Ritchie,
2018; Waapalaneexkweew, 2018).
When evaluation has been initiated by Indigenous organizations, it has fre-
quently been in response to a requirement from a funding agency—most o en
a territorial or federal government agency—rather than as an internally driven
initiative to drive program or service improvement. is is consistent with the
experience of other Indigenous groups in North America (Martinez, Running
Wolf, BigFoot, Randall, & Villegas, 2018).
Compounding this historic distrust and skepticism about the value of evalua-
tion is a lack of time and resources. Indigenous governing organizations in NWT
have, for the most part, been focused on one overriding priority, which is the
negotiation and implementation of land claims, resources, and self-government
agreements, an activity that is all-consuming and takes many years to complete.
Smaller organizations, such as band councils and Indigenous non-pro t groups,
face capacity and capability challenges including limited funding, lack of sus-
tained funding for most programs, and diculties in recruiting and retaining
quali ed sta—all of which mean that resources and attention tend to be focused
on the immediate pressures of program delivery rather than other components
of the program cycle (i.e., planning, monitoring, evaluation, and continuous im-
provement based on evidence).
Contemporary challenges
e concept of Indigenous evaluation provides an opportunity to change the
narrative of evaluation as a tool of colonization, as something that is imposed on
Indigenous governments and organizations by external agencies and not relevant
to their own needs and priorities (Bowman, Francis, & Tyndall, 2015). But this is
© 2020 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837
Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 497
a relatively new  eld, and there are barriers to utilization—including a shortage
of trained Indigenous evaluators in Canada and the absence of formal learning
opportunities for Indigenous evaluation in a Canadian context.
Another challenge is that Indigenous evaluation approaches and methods
may not be understood by public governments and funding agencies to be as rig-
orous, credible, or valid as those with which they are more familiar.  e beliefs
and values that inform Indigenous evaluation approaches, which are grounded in
Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies and dened by Indigenous communi-
ties, may not resonate with funders (Gregory, Easterling, Kaechele, & Trousdale,
2016). e greater emphasis on qualitative methods and reliance on stories and
Elders’ wisdom which is characteristic of Indigenous approaches may be seen as
less rigorous. Kawakami, Aton, Cram, Lai, and Porima (2007 ) note that Indig-
enous nations and communities are not homogeneous and that e ective meth-
odologies must be rooted in local knowledge and traditions. Kovach (2009 ) also
stresses that Indigenous knowledge cannot be standardized but must be contex-
tualized. Although this need for diering approaches and methods appropriate to
local circumstance is not substantially dierent from the accepted use of a variety
of approaches and methods in the established western evaluation profession and
tradition, the fact that Indigenous evaluations dier in format and approach may
pose an impediment to acceptance and understanding on the part of funding
governments and agencies with respect to the contribution that these evaluation
products make to t with their needs.
To date, the use of evaluation as a program improvement tool has not system-
atically been embraced or adopted by Indigenous governments and organizations
in the NWT. e outcomes and measures promoted by evaluation professionals
oen do not reect the values and priorities of Indigenous governments and or-
ganizations (Kawakami et al., 2007). Indigenous communities and governments
are frustrated by what they perceive as an unnecessary need to demonstrate out-
comes of community-driven projects and programs to the dominant society, par-
ticularly those that are rooted in values that are deeply grounded and universally
shared. As former Chief Roy Fabien of the Katlod’eechee First Nation described
it, “We’re trying to justify ourselves as Dene people, here. We don’t need to ... . To
me, this is a colonization process we’re in right now ... . e whole process—is it
about money? If we toe the line and do everything that they tell us to, then we get
money?” (CBC North, 2017).
e GNWT and, to a lesser extent, municipal and community governments and
some NWT non-government organizations have regularly utilized evaluation
studies to inform the design, development, and improvement of programs and
projects in the NWT, but as noted above, until recently there appears to have
been less interest on the part of Indigenous governments and organizations. Re-
cent events described below indicate that this is changing, and they point to an
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
498 DeLancey
emerging interest in evaluation as a means for Indigenous governing organiza-
tions to ensure that the programs and services they are providing to bene ciaries
and residents are eective, and as a means of accountability to bene ciaries and
not just to external funders.
Evaluation as a means of demonstrating outcomes:
On-the-land programs
Indigenous governing organizations and communities have long been subjected
to requirements for reporting on activities and outcomes imposed by funding
agencies, and the requirement has been experienced as an imposition with lit-
tle relevance to local needs and priorities (GNWT, 2001). However, there is also
recognition that undertaking sound evaluation practices can be an essential step
in accessing continued funding from external agencies, both governmental and
non-governmental. One area where this recognition has recently gained traction
is that of land-based programming. On-the-land programs play an important role
in Indigenous communities, providing a range of benets that include connec-
tion to language and culture, transmission of traditional knowledge and values,
healing opportunities, and many more (Burgess, Mileran, & Bailies, 2008; Bur-
gess et al., 2009; Redvers, 2016; Wildcat, McDonald, Irlbacher-Fox, & Coulthard,
2014). Land-based programming is expensive, including costs of transportation,
infrastructure, stang, and insurance, among others (Wildcat et al., 2014)  e
programming costs mean that Indigenous communities are continually seeking
funding to support what is seen as a critical need in their communities.
To help communities address this need, the NWT On e Land Collaborative
(OTLC) was established in 2015 by TIDES Canada and the GNWT to provide
NWT organizations and communities with one-window access to funding, and
to lever additional funding. e OTLC is composed of government (territorial
and Indigenous), charitable, corporate, and not-for-prot partners, and in 2018
it distributed $1 million in funding to 48 land-based projects in NWT.
Funders of land-based programming oen see the investment as an op-
portunity to achieve broad social outcomes—land-based programs o en have
stated goals that include healing, addictions treatment, reduction in youth crime,
language enhancement, to name a few. Funders and program sponsors want to
see evidence that the intended outcomes are being achieved, or at least that there
is a direct link between program activities and the intended results. But o en,
land-based programs are focusing on issues whose origins are rooted in a multi-
generational shared community experience of colonization, residential school,
dispossession of lands, and institutional racism, and the impacts of programs will
not be realized in the short term (Bowman et al., 2015, Williams, 2018). Gener-
ally, these programs are short-term due to nancial and other constraints, lasting
from just a few days to a few weeks, which only increases the di culty of achieving
substantial impacts in response to generational issues.
Further, there is skepticism in Indigenous communities about the need to
evaluate an activity that is universally understood to have inherent value. As one
© 2020 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837
Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 499
leader noted, “You can’t evaluate land-based programs. ats ridiculous. We all
know what it feels like when you get out of town and you get on the land. How
do you measure that?” (DeLancey et al., 2018). At a 2017 Pan-Territorial On
e Land Symposium held in Yellowknife, a panel discussion on evaluation ap-
proaches for land-based programs prompted a heated exchange that illustrated
how deeply rooted is the distrust of evaluation activity in this area. Iona Radu
summarized this divide by distinguishing between how evaluation of land-based
programs has been perceived as “judging the merit, worth and signi cance of a
program” to see if it measures up to standards set by external funders; and the
use of evaluation as a tool for “coming to know,” that is, making new knowledge
to guide programming in a good way (DeLancey et al., 2018).
OTLC partners and funding recipients have worked together to bridge this
gap. In 2019, the OTLC convened a gathering of land-based program funders,
practitioners, and evaluators with interest and experience in working with these
programs, to begin the process of developing a shared understanding of approach-
es to evaluating on-the-land programs. Organizers hoped that this work could
lead to a body of literature that would propose a generally accepted program the-
ory for Indigenous land-based programming, and shared best practices that would
be grounded in Indigenous epistemology, while also being accepted as credible
by funders and program sponsors. Participants concluded that there is value in
developing a shared theory of change to help program funders understand the link
between short-term outcomes and longer-term outcomes. ey proposed further
work to engage the broader community of organizations working in this  eld to
collaborate on developing best practices in evaluation approaches and methods
for land-based programming, on the assumption that this collaboration on a
large scale would support general acceptance of these methods and approaches
by funders (Tides Canada, Sahtu Renewable Resources Board, NWT Recreation &
Parks Association, & GNWT, 2018).
Evaluation for self-government: The NWT Evaluation Symposium
In the context of the evolving governance landscape in the NWT described above,
Indigenous governments are increasingly engaged in delivering programs and
services to beneciaries and other residents in their areas of jurisdiction, and
in generally establishing themselves as governments exercising the full range of
powers and duties that fall within their purview.
In 2018, the Alberta and NWT Chapter of the CES partnered with
Dedats’eetsaa: the Tłı̨ chǫ Research & Training Institute of the Tłı̨ chǫ Govern-
ment, to host the NWT Evaluation Symposium in Yellowknife.  e Symposium
was organized as an ancillary event following the CES Annual Conference, which
was also hosted by the Alberta and NWT Chapter, and was held in Calgary, Al-
berta. CES conference organizers worked with Dedats’eetsaa to develop an agenda
for the Symposium that built on the broader conference theme of co-creation but
with a specic focus on Indigenous evaluation, and they designed an agenda “to
highlight work that is being done by Indigenous governments and communities,
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
500 DeLancey
or by non-Indigenous evaluators in partnership with Indigenous governments and
communities, in the Northwest Territories and elsewhere; and to provide an op-
portunity for evaluators and program sta in all levels of government to network,
share approaches and methodologies, and promote best practices” (CES, n.d. b).
A key organizing principle for the conference was that the CES organizers
and Dedats’eetsaa would work in full partnership and collaboration—that the
event would be truly co-created. erefore, instead of just oering time slots for
Indigenous presenters, the conference was split into two separate days.  e rst
day of the two-day Symposium was held in a hotel meeting room, with an agenda
similar to most academic conferences, including keynote presentations and a
panel discussion with an explicit focus on evaluation. For the second day of the
conference, the agenda was developed by Dedats’eetsaa. ey decided to set aside
traditional Western academic notions of knowledge transmission and instead
to privilege Indigenous methods. e focal point for the day’s agenda was to
highlight Boots on the Ground, a caribou monitoring program that involves par-
ticipatory action research using traditional Indigenous monitoring methods.  e
agenda was turned over to the Tłı̨ chǫ experts, including Elders, and the sessions
were held at a land-based venue outside of Yellowknife, with break-out sessions
held in tipis or around campres. Elders and program sta spoke in their own
words about the program, about their research methods, and their  ndings, o en
speaking in their own language with the use of simultaneous interpretation.  e
rhythm and pacing of presentations were markedly dierent from the  rst day.
Some 115 people attended the Symposium, with about one third of the
participants identifying as evaluators. An indication of the emerging interest
in evaluation in the NWT is that half of the participants were from the NWT,
and seven NWT Indigenous governing organizations were represented. Strong
nancial support was provided by the GNWT and several corporate sponsors,
and substantial in-kind support was provided by the Tłı̨ chǫ Government and
non-government partners.
Dr. John B. Zoe, Chair of Dedatseetsaa and the Symposium co-chair, opened
the Symposium by noting that evaluation sponsored by public government tends
to be de cit-based:
e only evaluation we hear today is when GNWT reports on Indigenous people, for
example, “rates of Indigenous language use slightly improved but overall education
levels are decreasing.” ... Everything is negative. It doesn’t capture our strengths, or
use these strengths as the foundation for using evaluation.
Zoe went on to explain that the second day of the Symposium would focus on the
ı̨ chǫ Government’s Boots on the Ground program, a caribou monitoring pro-
gram based on the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Elders and harvesters, and
that the approach to evaluation would dier from Western evaluation approaches:
“Our report is a story, it’s dierent from what you’re used to.” He closed by stress-
ing the importance of evaluation for Indigenous self-governments, stating, “We
know we need to evaluate what we do and see how we can make it stronger.” He
© 2020 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837
Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 501
also noted the value of having several NWT Indigenous governments present at
the Symposium, providing an opportunity for them to share best practices and
learn from one another—a critical rst step in developing a community of interest
for Indigenous evaluation in the NWT.
Other Indigenous speakers also highlighted the role of evaluation in promot-
ing and strengthening Indigenous sovereignty. Dr. Nicole Bowman stressed the
importance of grounding evaluation in the shared history of colonization and dis-
possession of lands. Nan Wehipeihana from New Zealand noted that “[e]valuation
is part of the cultural DNA of Indigenous people” and outlined several examples
of Maori culturally grounded frameworks that have been applied in New Zealand
(Wehipeihana, 2018 b). Hillory Tenute closed her presentation with a blunt state-
ment about the need for Indigenous approaches and methods to be privileged:
“Co-creation and collaboration are ne, but just for one minute, can we just own
the space?” Her statement highlighted the need to distinguish between evaluation
approaches that, while making sincere eorts to engage Indigenous collaborators
in a respectful way, still remain grounded in Western ways of knowing and meth-
ods, and evaluation that is initiated by Indigenous people, grounded in Indigenous
values and methods, and undertaken by Indigenous evaluators.
Building Indigenous evaluation capacity
As the interest in Indigenous evaluation increases, so too does the need to build
capacity for evaluation among Indigenous scholars and researchers. Hotıì ts’eeda
is a research network in the NWT, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research as one of a national network of SPOR SUPPORT Units under the Strat-
egy for Patient-Oriented Research, with a mandate to support health research
and training that is rooted in Dene Naowo, Inuvialuit, and Métis knowledge and
to respond to the needs of patients and communities (Hotıì ts’eeda, n.d.). It com-
menced operations in 2016. In an eort to respond to priorities brought forward
by Indigenous organizations in the NWT, Hotıì ts’eeda has identied the need to
promote the development of Indigenous evaluation capacity and methods related
to health and well-being in the NWT and has implemented an Indigenous evalu-
ation capacity strategy that will provide opportunities for training, professional
development, and mentorship to sta of Indigenous organizations working in
health and wellness - related programs.
e intention of the NWT Evaluation Symposium was to showcase new ap-
proaches to evaluation that provide an opportunity to change the narrative of
evaluation as a tool of colonization, as something that is imposed on Indigenous
governments and organizations by external agencies and not relevant to their
needs and priorities. Terms such as culturally responsive evaluation, Indigenous
evaluation, and Indigenous evaluation frameworks have been used by di erent
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
502 DeLancey
authors to encompass several dimensions of evaluative activity, generally falling
into three broad categories:
culturally responsive evaluation: evaluation conducted by non-Indigenous
evaluators that is “intentional and inclusive when selecting and implement-
ing evaluation design and methods based on the culture and contextual
needs of the project, context, participants, and stakeholders” (Bowman et
al., 2015);
co-created evaluation : where both Indigenous and Western knowledge
are equally respected and utilized as appropriate in designing evaluation
approaches (Superu, 2018); and
Indigenous evaluation : evaluation by Indigenous people, for Indigenous
people, as Indigenous people (Wehipeihana, 2018 b).
ese distinctions provide a useful framework for discussion of the opportunities
for the utilization of Indigenous evaluation approaches in Northern Canada. As
described above, the NWT governance landscape includes a range of programs and
services variously delivered by public governments, non-government organiza-
tions, and Indigenous organizations and governments, as well as initiatives that
operate under collaborative or co-management agreements. is diversity of gov-
ernance and funding arrangements will be a permanent feature of governance in
the NWT, thus requiring an equally diverse evaluation toolkit. ese distinct evalu-
ation approaches and their potential for utilization in the NWT are explored below.
Culturally responsive evaluation
Several authors have addressed the need for non-Indigenous evaluators working
in Indigenous contexts to practise evaluation that is grounded in the cultural
context of the community in which the evaluation is taking place, respects Indig-
enous beliefs and protocols, applies culturally relevant measures that  ow from
community-de ned values, and meaningfully engages Indigenous people in the
design and conduct of all stages of the evaluation (Bowman et al., 2015; Choui-
nard & Cousins, 2007; LaFrance & Nichols, 200 8). Given the extensive literature,
it is reasonable to state that the precepts of culturally responsive evaluation (CRE)
have become widely acknowledged and generally accepted by the evaluation pro-
fession in North America.
Both Bowman et al. (2015 ) and Wehipeihana (2018 b) have stressed the im-
portance of the role that non-Indigenous evaluation allies play in the contempo-
rary context where there are few Indigenous evaluation practitioners trained to
participate in evaluation-related activities, in eect considering CRE not only as
a valid evaluation approach in its own right but also as a much-needed bridging
mechanism to a future where capacity issues will no longer hamper Indigenous
evaluation approaches.
Bowman et al. (2015 ) have also noted the utility of CRE in contexts where
there may be a lack of clarity with respect to who has jurisdiction for delivery of
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Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 503
services in situations where, for example, tribal peoples reside in non-tribal areas.
is is particularly relevant in the NWT where there is considerable mobility
among regions and where employment opportunities tend to be found in regional
centres and in Yellowknife, the capital city, resulting in a large proportion of the
residents of self-governing entities living outside the area where their Indigenous
government has jurisdiction.
ere will be an ongoing need for CRE in NWT as public governments will
continue to provide the greatest proportion of programs and services for the
foreseeable future, and in order for evaluation in this context to be e ective it
requires cultural competence and an ability to work eectively in Indigenous and
non-Indigenous contexts. e GNWT, in its ongoing role as a public government,
will continue to be a major funder and delivery agent for programs and services
in the NWT. Given that half of the territory’s population is Indigenous, demon-
strated competence in CRE methods and approaches should be a requirement
embedded in policies, protocols, and practices for any evaluation undertaking
that involves programs and services delivered to, on behalf of, or in partnership
with Indigenous residents and governments. Compared to many public govern-
ment institutions, the GNWT has been progressive in its eorts to acknowledge
and incorporate Indigenous culture, values, and ways of knowing in its work—
see, for example, the Traditional Knowledge Policy (GNWT, 2005), the Culture
and Heritage Strategic Framework (GNWT, 2015), and the Respect/Recognition/
Responsibility policy (GNWT, n.d. a). GNWT’s evaluation policies and protocols,
however, are outdated and contain no explicit mention of CRE or Indigenous
evaluation, other than an indication that evaluators must “respect the culture
that you will be working in” (GNWT, 2014). While any evaluation undertaking
dealing with a GNWT program should be informed by the overarching policy
documents noted above, explicit direction and support for evaluators working
with Indigenous populations in the NWT should be developed.  e Australian
government has shown leadership in this area by initiating the development of
a whole-of-government evaluation strategy for policies and programs a ecting
Indigenous Australians (Government of Australia, 2019).
Culturally responsive evaluation approaches are likely to be most e ective
when applied to situations where jurisdiction remains with the Government of
Canada or GNWT but where program beneciaries include Indigenous residents
and communities.
Co-created evaluation
Co-created evaluation builds on the precepts of CRE but is premised on the as-
sumption of true partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partici-
pants at every level. Co-created evaluation requires more than recognition and
respect for Indigenous epistemology and methods. As the theme for the CES 2018
Conference, co-creation was described as follows: “Co-creation challenges tradi-
tional power relationships. It requires an evaluator to be a methodological expert,
facilitator, critic, allyand strategic thinker who can move evaluation to enable
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
504 DeLancey
change while sharing jurisdiction. It speaks to developing true partnerships, to
building evaluations from the ground up and to acknowledging that other meth-
ods and perspectives have equal weight to our own” (CES, n.d. a).
Kate McKegg has explored the power relationships inherent in research and
evaluation. She asserts the need for this issue to be addressed explicitly in order
to truly co-create an evaluation approach and has written about the need to shi
the balance of power, stating that “(white) evaluators and others with power to
resource need to invest in and support the development of evaluators from other
cultures to lead and to determine whose values hold sway” (Wehipeihana, David-
son, McKegg, & Shanker, 2010, p. 189). For co-created evaluation to be genuine,
Indigenous and non-Indigenous epistemologies must be equally privileged; as
Wehipeihana notes, “there is no substitute for cultural capital that comes from
being within the culture; some things can’t be learnt or explored simply with a
culturally responsive’ lens” (Wehipeihana et al., 2010, p. 188).
As challenging as this is, Canadian evaluators are going to have to come to
grips with the growing need for co-created evaluation in situations where juris-
diction or program delivery responsibility is shared between Indigenous and
non-Indigenous governments, or even among Indigenous government organi-
zations. Bowman et al. (2015, p. 341) note that the evaluation community will
benet from a multijurisdictional framework in situations where governments
are linked into “an interconnected system that helps agencies form policy task
forces and working groups; develop information and resource sharing practices;
form political alliances; create memos of understanding and legal ordinances or
structures; and carry out research and evaluation studies to properly document
evidence-based programs and practices carried out in municipal, state, federal
and Tribal contexts.
e NWT is well positioned to become a leader in the development of pro-
tocols and methods for, and utilization of, co-created evaluation approaches. As
more Indigenous governments contemplate administrative service arrangements
with the GNWT and co-management arrangements become more established,
there will be an increasing need for robust evaluation approaches that re ect
the spirit of shared jurisdiction, that equally privilege Indigenous and Western
knowledges and methods, and that produce results and recommendations that
are perceived as credible and relevant by all knowledge users.
Canadian evaluators and social scientists frequently cite the concept of “two-
eyed seeing” to describe an approach where Indigenous and non-Indigenous
knowledges are integrated through a process of learning to see from one eye
with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, and from the other eye with
the strengths of Western knowledge, and weaving these together (National Col-
laborating Centre on Aboriginal Health, 2013).  e ı̨ chǫ Government promotes
the philosophy of “strong like two people,” which recognizes the value of both
Western and Indigenous knowledge systems and the need to be able to operate
eectively in both contexts (ı̨ chǫ Government, n.d.). What these philosophies
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Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 505
have in common is that they do not privilege one form of knowledge over another
but acknowledge merit in multiple perspectives (Waapalaneexkweew, 2018).  is
is an admirable goal but can be dicult to achieve in reality, especially in a con-
text where power and privilege have generally accrued to Western epistemolo-
gies and methods. Co-creation is not about Indigenizing Western evaluation but
can be eective only when evaluation frameworks and methods are designed
in true partnership, drawing on knowledge, values, and research methods from
Indigenous and Western spheres as needed to arrive at the most appropriate and
e ective evaluation approach for the specic context of the evaluation. Further,
as Gaudry (2015, p. 260) notes, “Non-Indigenous researchers hoping to carry out
research with Indigenous people or in Indigenous communities must be prepared
to navigate settler-Indigenous and colonizer-colonized relationship.
Various authors have proposed models for designing co-created evaluation
approaches; for example, Martinez et al. (2018, p. 35) describe a model for co-
creating collaborative evaluation for tribal child welfare programs in the United
States, citing its potential to “build a new narrative for program planning and
e experience of the NWT Evaluation Symposium highlights some of the
challenges the profession will face in craing approaches to co-creation. In re-
sponding to the evaluation survey, the majority of the participants who responded
(33% response rate) were positive about having the opportunity to learn in an
Indigenous context from Indigenous experts and to hear the unique perspectives
of Indigenous researchers. However, there were also comments that revealed dis-
satisfaction or discomfort with the Day 2 sessions. Some respondents indicated that
they were not comfortable with the unstructured approach of the on-the-land ses-
sions, that they found the day to be poorly organized, and that listening through in-
terpreters was challenging. Some respondents expressed a desire for more focused
and systematic presentations. It may be that, pushed out of their comfort zones,
some evaluators experienced for the rst time how many Indigenous people have
reacted to the experience of participating in academic conferences, highlighting
what McKegg has described as the need for non-Indigenous evaluators to “under-
stand ourselves as ‘cultural beings’ and to acknowledge that our cultural worldview
is not ‘best’ or ‘better’, it is dierent” (Wehipeihana et al., 2010, p. 189).
Co-created evaluation approaches will have particular relevance in situations
where public and Indigenous government share responsibility for program deliv-
ery and where Indigenous governments and other organizations rely on external
funding sources to support critical programs, as is currently the case with some
land-based programs.
Indigenous evaluation
e ultimate goal for Indigenous governments is to utilize evaluation that is
grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and responds to the priorities and
values of Indigenous communities, and to use evaluation not only for internal
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506 DeLancey
accountability but also for ongoing program improvement. is goes far beyond
training Indigenous people in Western evaluation methods:
Indigenous evaluation is not just a matter of accommodating or adapting majority
perspectives to American Indian contexts. Rather, it requires a total reconceptualiza-
tion and rethinking. It involves a fundamental shi in worldview. Indigenous meth-
odology challenges us to rethink both epistemology and method. Although methods
of indigenous evaluation share common ground with qualitative methods, the two are
not synonymous. (LaFrance, Nichols, & Kirkhart, 2012, p.61)
As Indigenous governments in the NWT advance the process of negotiation and
implementation of self-government agreements, there will be an increased role for
Indigenous evaluation in supporting program and service delivery by Indigenous
governments, for Indigenous residents. Non-government Indigenous organiza-
tions are also increasingly seeking to rely on Indigenous evaluation approaches
and methods to support their program delivery and improvement, as evidenced
by attendance at the NWT Evaluation Symposium.
Indigenous evaluators are breaking down the historical barriers of distrust
by grounding evaluation approaches in Indigenous values and cosmologies, us-
ing methods that are familiar and appropriate in local Indigenous contexts and
changing the language of evaluation to be more responsive to Indigenous ways of
Is there a role for non-Indigenous evaluators to participate in, or contribute
to, Indigenous evaluation? Informal and undocumented feedback received by
the organizers aer the NWT Evaluation Symposium indicated that some non-
Indigenous evaluators were made uncomfortable by the emphasis on Indigenous
evaluation as an enterprise that must be Indigenous-led, questioning what the role
of non-Indigenous evaluators and Western approaches might be in a future NWT
context. In her keynote address to the CES 2018 Conference, Nan Wehipeihana
noted that while the goal of Indigenous evaluation is to have evaluation that is
done by Indigenous peoples, for Indigenous peoples, as Indigenous peoples, the
current reality is that there is a shortage of Indigenous practitioners trained to play
this role, so there is a role for non-Indigenous evaluators to participate in both
co-created and Indigenous evaluation. However, she stressed, this is “by invita-
tion with no automatic or presumed right of leadership” (Wehipeihana, 2018 a).
As Indigenous governments expand their role in taking ownership of evaluation,
non-Indigenous evaluators have to be willing to step aside and recognize that
while being an ally sometimes means collaborating and supporting, sometimes it
just means getting out of the way.
e preceding sections focus on how the development of Indigenous evalu-
ation in the NWT may contribute to the broader public discourse on this topic.
But there is another, critically important, aspect to the role that a better under-
standing of Indigenous evaluation approaches can play in today’s world. Michael
Quinn Patton and others are promoting the concept of Blue Marble Evaluation—
evaluation that is “aimed at transforming systems towards a more sustainable
© 2020 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837
Indigenous Evaluation in Northwest Territories 507
world,” breaking down silos and creating linkages to make global systems more
sustainable (Patton, n.d.). Andy Rowe (2019, p. 29) has echoed this theme in his
promotion of the need for sustainability-ready evolution, that is, “evaluation that
recognises that human and natural systems are coupled, and that current evalua-
tion portfolios are now and will increasingly be aected by natural system forces
including climate.” Rowe and others have criticized current evaluation approaches
as falling short of the scope needed to be sustainability-ready because evaluation
generally treats human and natural systems as unconnected. In a keynote panel
presentation on “Evaluation for the Anthropocene” at the CES 2018 Conference,
panel members noted how Indigenous worldviews, which are rooted in place and
perceive mankind as part of a broader ecosystem, provide the means to bridge
this gap in evaluation approaches. Sean Curry argued that environmental science
doesn’t say “no” until hard science proves a negative impact, but that when an is-
sue is viewed through an Indigenous lens, there will be a dierent, more nuanced,
outcome. Jane Davidson proposed that a core value of sustainability-ready evalua-
tion should be that evaluation must be responsive to the needs of the community
but without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy the use of the
land and resources—a value that is congruent with Indigenous understanding of
responsibility for stewardship of lands and resources (CES, 2018).
ese perspectives are mirrored in the work of Indigenous evaluators. Wehi-
peihana (2018b ) states, “Our conservation and guardianship practices are a form
of evaluation for the protection and sustainability of mother earth and ourselves.
Zoe, a recognized expert in Tłı̨ chǫ cosmology, continually returns to this theme in
his work. In explaining the importance of the evaluation approach reected in the
Boots on the Ground project to participants at the NWT Evaluation Symposium,
he noted that the program is founded on the principle of having on-the-land expe-
riences informing research: “All the information, all the knowledge that we need is
still on the land.” Boots on the Ground is, in fact, a sophisticated, mixed-methods
evaluation of the interplay of human and natural systems and their impact on one
another; the project’s purpose, as described by Zoe, is to determine “what impact
is [the decline of the caribou herd] having on us, and how do we make it public to
our people.” Stressing the essential linking between human and natural systems,
Zoe asserted the need to make policymakers understand that “the goal is not to
get people o the land, the goal is to get people on the land with the caribou. We
have co-existed since time immemorial. We’re partners—if one of us is missing,
the other is going to wander away.
Rowe (2019, p. 43) asserts that in order for evaluation to be relevant in a twenty-
rst-century context, it must “incorporate dierent worldviews that regard hu-
man and natural systems as coupled and each important” and concludes that
“Indigenous evaluation approaches that incorporate Indigenous worldviews could
prove to be the polar star for sustainability-ready evaluation.” e development of
Indigenous evaluation approaches in the NWT and elsewhere has a role to play
in addressing issues of critical importance to twenty-rst-century society, beyond
its immediate application to the needs and priorities of Indigenous governments.
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
508 DeLancey
As Bowman et al. (2015 ) have noted, building Indigenous evaluation capacity and
capability will require a substantial investment. ey describe the scope of the
work to be done with respect to training, developing common policies and meth-
ods, and data sharing protocols as “staggering.” But their conclusion about why
this investment is worthwhile rings true for Canada as well as the United States:
“without evaluation capacity building within, across and outside of Indian Coun-
try, the pattern of long-term educational, economic, health, and other disparities
that Indian people have endured will likely continue” (Bowman et al., 2015, p. 352).
e multi-dimensional governance landscape in the NWT provides oppor-
tunities for advancing the understanding and utilization of culturally responsive
evaluation, co-created evaluation, and Indigenous evaluation approaches. All
three have relevance, but consideration will be needed to determine which ap-
proach is the most appropriate in any given situation.
ere is an opportunity for the GNWT to update and enhance its evaluation
policies and guidelines to formalize the use of CRE as an appropriate evaluation
approach for work in NWT communities, and to ensure that Indigenous ways
of knowing and research methods are given equal or greater weight than non-
Indigenous approaches and methods. e requirement for a CRE approach when
appropriate can be built into the contracting process for government-sponsored
evaluation projects.
In the NWT, Indigenous governments are leading the way in developing
research and evaluation approaches rooted in Indigenous knowledge and values.
NWT stakeholders with an interest in evaluation have fertile ground to develop
and test protocols for co-created evaluation, and to build on learnings and share
best practices with one another and the rest of Canada—both through existing
forums such as CES meetings and publications, and through new communities of
interest that may be formed to promote Indigenous evaluation in the north and
across Canada.
ere is a need not only in the NWT, but throughout Canada, for learning
and research institutions to make an intentional investment in the nascent  eld of
Indigenous evaluation, supporting research, publications, and training wherever
possible. Targeted opportunities must be made available for Indigenous research-
ers and practitioners who want to advance their own skills in this area.
CES can play a role by continuing to advance the public discourse, using its
privileged position as the curator of evaluator credentialing in Canada to advocate
for the credibility and legitimacy of Indigenous evaluation approaches.
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Debbie DeLancey has worked in the Northwest Territories with Indigenous organizations
and the Government of the Northwest Territories for more than 40 years. She is currently
doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 © 2020
512 DeLancey
an Organizational Development Advisor with Hotıì ts'eeda, the NWT SPOR SUPPORT
Unit. Debbie has an MAE in evaluation from the University of Melbourne and holds the
Credentialled Evaluator designation with the Canadian Evaluation Society. Her interests
include health systems policy, land-based programming and advancing the utilization of
Indigenous evaluation approaches.
© 2020 CJPE 34.3, 492–512 doi: 10.3138/cjpe.68837
Student success has multiple meanings; however, the quantitative bias prevalent in the northwest American and Western Canadian postsecondary education sector restricts how student success is defined and measured. Standardised measures of student success assume that the student experience is homogeneous and risk the implementation of policies and programmes based on insufficient information. Findings from several small student focus groups suggest that unless new evaluation approaches are adopted, it is unlikely postsecondary institutions will generate the knowledge and wisdom needed to serve the goals of a diverse array of students. This article presents findings from three small student focus groups (n = 14), in an attempt to understand how students themselves define student success and how it should be measured. The results contributed to the development of five principles for culturally responsive postsecondary performance measurement that include participatory, emergent and appreciative processes and qualitative evaluation methodologies.
This paper presents a case example of the Indigenous Evaluation Framework as applied to a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education pilot program. Indigenous methodologies include knowledge and data that are inclusive of historically marginalized groups, are highly meaningful, valid, and useful for all. A paradigm shift from Western evaluation methodologies to Indigenous evaluation is necessary when evaluating STEM programs that are committed to increasing recruitment, retention, and graduation of students from historically marginalized groups. This paper describes the use of the Indigenous Evaluation Framework during the first two years of the newly created Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands program at the University of Colorado Denver. We discuss the importance of the Indigenous Evaluation Framework and how it informs the development and continued improvements to the program that also provides agency to program leads and participants.
Full-text available
Evaluation is at the cusp of two urgent challenges: indigenous evaluation and sustainability. How we respond to these challenges can dramatically affect the future of evaluation. A sustainability‐ready evaluation will be transformative. It will be an evaluation that recognizes that human and natural systems are coupled, and that evaluation portfolios are now and will increasingly be affected by our connections to natural system forces including climate. Sustainability‐ready evaluation will be an evaluation that reaches well past the intervention to important public policy goals and to key sustainability challenges. Evaluating coupled human and natural systems will be challenging. Fortunately, technical barriers do not prevent us from starting to infuse sustainability into evaluation; the barriers are social and associated with the worldview and vision of evaluation. To facilitate the development of sustainability‐ready evaluation, this paper provides an initial checklist and references to useful resources. Absent transformations to become sustainability‐ready evaluation will lack relevance for many of the current and future key issues of our times. Fields lacking relevance are themselves not sustainable.
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Shared histories of "discovery" and colonization have made us wary and weary of evaluation practices that disregard indigenous worldviews and ways of knowing, which we absolutely know are valid. Even though we have been marginalized within our lands, we remain sovereign and insist on the right to develop our own evalua- tion methodology. We have done so by building on the indigenous framework developed by the Evaluation Hui, a consortium of Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) and Mäori evaluators. This article asserts that eval- uations of projects in indigenous communities must (a) be viewed and implemented in the context of a specific place, time, community, and history; (b) promote and practice an indigenous worldview; and (c) facilitate collaborations that embrace both cultural and academic perspectives.
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Background: This paper builds on the growing body of evaluation literature around the importance of culture and cultural context in evaluation (e.g. Greene, 2005; Hood, Hopson and Frierson 2005; Hopson, 2009; Kirkhart, 1995 and 2005; La France, 2001). Purpose: The place of language, culture, cultural context, and leadership roles in evaluation is explored through consideration of the question, “What does it take to do evaluation in communities and cultural contexts other than our own?” Setting: Not applicable. Intervention: Not applicable. Research Design: Not applicable. Findings: Attention to the location of power and privilege in evaluation, and to community engagement and ‘sense-making’ processes are the conversational starting points to begin to explore what it takes to do evaluation in communities, where the language, culture, and cultural context are different from one’s own.
Culturally responsive evaluation and culturally responsive Indigenous evaluation (CRIE) within the broader field of evaluation are not often included in Western literature nor are they known or used by the majority of mainstream evaluators. In order to address this literature and practice gap, this article offers an overview and a broader origin story of CRIE prior to colonial or European contact in the United States and gives an overview of the historical, theoretical, and practical foundations for conducting CRIE in a contemporary evaluation context. Examples of evidence-based models, theories, and resources are provided to connect CRIE to Western evaluation designs and provide concrete strategies for the field of evaluation going forward. The article concludes with systemic and policy evaluation considerations as agencies from federal (i.e., United States), tribal, and international governments and partners from private or nonprofit sectors collaborate to carry out Indigenous evaluations in the future. Collectively this multijurisdictional, culturally responsive, and community-centered CRIE approach gives evaluators a new way to move forward.
When tribal communities hear the word “evaluation,” it often invokes a reactive fear and a sense of disempowerment. This dynamic is based on the historical trauma experienced in tribal communities, as well as their continuing experience of deficit‐based evaluations. In addressing questions that are important for a western scientific audience, evaluators invariably overlook more relevant and valid areas of cultural learning and development. Such deficit‐based evaluation practices must be replaced by more culturally responsive evaluation practice that engages fully with tribal communities, and where all involved have a commitment to cultural ways of knowing and learning. Evaluation must embark upon the process of engaging with cultural strengths in a manner that empowers Indigenous communities and builds Indigenous knowledge. This allows for both the generation and honoring of Indigenous knowledge development. This chapter describes the process of developing an evaluation roadmap to do just this task within an American Indian child welfare context.
The Ngaa-bi-nya framework presented here is a practical guide for the evaluation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social programs. It has a range of prompts to stimulate thinking about critical success factors in programs relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives. Ngaa-bi-nya was designed from an Aboriginal practitioner-scholar standpoint and was informed by the holistic concept of Aboriginal health, case studies with Aboriginal-led social and emotional well-being programs, human rights instruments, and the work of Stufflebeam. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social programs have been described as suffering from a lack of evaluation. Ngaa-bi-nya is one of the few tools developed specifically to reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ contexts. It prompts the user to take into account the historical, policy, and social landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives, existing and emerging cultural leadership, and informal caregiving that supports programs. Ngaa-bi-nya’s prompts across four domains—landscape factors, resources, ways of working, and learnings—provide a structure through which to generate insights necessary for the future development of culturally relevant, effective, translatable, and sustainable programs required for Australia’s growing and diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), comprising 34 American Indian tribally controlled colleges and universities, has undertaken a comprehensive effort to develop an "Indigenous Framework for Evaluation" that synthesizes Indigenous ways of knowing and Western evaluation practice. To ground the framework, AIHEC engaged in an extensive consultation process including conducting a number of focus groups in major regions of the United States. Cultural experts, Indian educators, and evaluators shared their concerns regarding evaluation and described how evaluation fits within a cultural framework. This article summarizes the focus group discussions and describes how the framework developed using the key principles of Indigenous ways of knowing and four core values common to tribal communities.
Context grounds all aspects of indigenous evaluation. From an indigenous evaluation framework (IEF), programs are understood within their relationship to place, setting, and community, and evaluations are planned, undertaken, and validated in relation to cultural context. This chapter describes and explains fundamental elements of IEF epistemology and method and gives several examples of these elements from evaluations in American Indian communities. IEF underscores the importance of putting context ahead of method choice and suggests that context exerts an even greater impact than previously recognized. © Wiley Periodicals, Inc., and the American Evaluation Association.
What are Indigenous research methodologies, and how do they unfold? Indigenous methodologies flow from tribal knowledge, and while they are allied with several western qualitative approaches, they remain distinct. These are the focal considerations of Margaret Kovach's study,which offers guidance to those conducting research in the academy using Indigenous methodologies.Kovach includes topics such as Indigenous epistemologies, decolonizing theory, story as method, situating self and culture, Indigenous methods, protocol, meaning-making, and ethics. In exploring these elements, the book interweaves perspectives from six Indigenous researchers who share their stories, and also includes excerpts from the author's own journey into Indigenous methodologies. Indigenous Methodologies is an innovative and important contribution to the emergent discourse on Indigenous research approaches and will be of use to graduate students, professors, and community-based researchers of all backgrounds - both within the academy and beyond.