As promised, this week's post will highlight the Tribal Nations Research Group (TNRG) 2018 Data Matters Conference. TNRG is located in Belcourt, ND, on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, which is home to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI) and has been a CRCAIH Tribal Partner since 2013. President of TNRG, Anita Frederick, took some time to answer a few questions about the conference. I attended this conference last year with Dr. Victoria Grey Owl and another CRCAIH Tribal Partner, Heather Larsen (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate). I had only been working within CRCAIH for about a month and didn't know much at all about Anita and her group at TNRG. Trust me when I say that this was an amazing experience. The food was great, the people were welcoming, the presentations were impressive, and there was a lunchtime fashion show that I still talk about. If you've never been to the Turtle Mountain Reservation or worked with this community, you are in for a treat; this small reservation (72 square miles) has so many cool things going on and is producing educated, impressive people at incredible rates.
The 2017 Data Matters Conference focused on data, just as the title of the conference suggests. Anita pointed out that one goal of the conference was to "bring people together to talk about data, research, and the importance [of each] to the TMBCI Community." I saw these conversations happening all around me, so I know this goal was achieved, and the level of engagement by TMBCI community members throughout the conference was remarkable. The various presentations and panels shed light on the different types of data being collected in the TMBCI community, including at the program and community level, as well as data collected from research and GIS/GPS. There was a variety of topics discussed, which was something myself and other attendees enjoyed. It would be really amazing if every tribal community could have an event similar to this because it can be hard to keep up with what research is going on and, as demonstrated at this conference, it's also very meaningful for the community members to see how data from various tribal programs are being used.
I asked Anita what the impact of the conference was because the level of engagement that I saw from community members indicated that this conference would have practical applications. She has been seeing things that she wasn't really seeing before: more community members asking, "What [does] the data show?" and community members recognizing areas where there needs to be more research done. Also, from the 2017 Conference, community members received more information about the active research review process that exists in their community. Anita has seen more of an understanding from community members about TMBCI/TNRG Research Review Board, and the role this board is playing in keeping researchers accountable and ensuring that the research being conducted is relevant and beneficial to the TMBCI community.
The 2018 Data Matters Conference, coming up March 21-22, looks like another great opportunity to learn more about research and the practical application of research data for tribal communities. Expect to hear more about how TNRG, a reservation-based tribal organization, is guiding their community to make data-informed decisions. TNRG, like many other tribal research offices, is also working hard to educate their community about the importance of autonomy in research and ensuring that any research done within the tribal community fits their agenda and needs. I was perusing the agenda last week and I am so looking forward to the presentations they have lined up. There will be a little something for everyone, no matter what you are interested in. So, do yourself a favor and get registered today!
Needless to say, I will be attending the 2018 Data Matters Conference with other members of CRCAIH and the Population Health Group. Check out the conference page for more information or to register. I hope to see some of you there!
By: Michaela Seiber, MPH
CRCAIH Regulatory Knowledge Core
I will be your fearless blog leader and sincerely look forward to feedback, questions, suggestions for topics, cat pictures, and anyone interested in possibly being a guest writer.