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The Navajo ABID Study:
Community-based, Indigenous-led Research


Western science is a source of distrust in many Indigenous communities. 

Historically, western science has been weaponized against Indigenous people. Many public health issues today stem from processes of settler colonialism and white supremacy that seek to destroy and control Indigenous existence. 

Healthcare systems, in particular, have been sites for institutionalized dehumanization and erasure (e.g. forced sterilization of Indigenous women in IHS hospitals during the 1970s). Structures like these have introduced sickness and trauma into Indigenous communities. While resilience and resistance continues, the threat to Indigenous community wellbeing still looms.

Although this history has understandably fueled distrust, the Navajo ABID Study aims to conduct research that is embedded in community and cares for the holistic wellbeing of all our relatives, which we believe can create pathways to healing. 

Navajo ABID Study Framework

Dr. Pete created this framework to guide the Navajo ABID Study.

Using this values-based approach, the Navajo ABID Study aims to engage in community collaboration, understand the historical systematic layers of health and disease, and create accessible knowledge building opportunities to support health priorities on the Navajo Nation.


Build Community Projects

What we did: 

  • Attend community gatherings

  • Utilize existing knowledge sharing structures in communities (e.g. host informational booths at flea markets and post recruitment flyers at local community gathering spaces)

  • Compensate community members for their time and knowledge


Address Intersectionality

What we did: 

  • Learn from different disciplines while centering Indigenous knowledge systems to address cancer disparities

  • Understand the historical implications of research in Indigenous communities


Support Agency

What we did: 

  • ​Translate data and scientific jargon into accessible and shareable language 

  • Empower Indigenous communities with data

  • Honor tribal IRB standards and systems (see below)

Honoring Tribal Sovereignty

The Navajo Nation Human Research Review Board was formed in 1996 to ensure ethical research standards for the Diné People. They have the responsibility to facilitate a culturally respectful process to bridge Diné knowledge and science with Western knowledge and science. 

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