No More PRANKS-Giving: How the Evaluation Community Can Start Rebuilding Relations with Indigenous Communities

Koolamalsi njoos (Greetings, colleagues and friends):image1

As the newest Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) Affiliate Researcher, I represent the oldest and least known communities on Turtle Island and Mother Earth: Indigenous people.  My Indigenous ancestors and relatives are on nii nooxw waak nii numoxoomus (my father Peter Bowman’s and my grandfather Morris Bowman’s) side of the family. Neekaawa Lunaapeewook waak Mohiikaneewi (they are Lenaape-Munsee and Mohican Indians).  Mohican (not the “last of” thank you very much) and Lenni-Lunaape Munsee (we were “renamed” “Delaware Indians” as we were “relocated” by the Europeans post-contact) are my Indigenous family and community members who arrived on this continent thousands of years prior to European contact in the 1400s, according to our oral traditions. For the reader’s convenience, I will continue the rest of this discussion in the language the colonial people forced upon Indigenous people when they arrived at and conquered Turtle Island (English).

We need to stop Pranksgiving, and this time of year gives us a chance to rethink Columbus and beyond!  So, as we embark on yet another “Thanksgiving” and Native American history “month” I’d like to offer a different, historical Indigenous perspective, “re-writing and re-righting” (Smith, 1999) the western narrative that the American story began when Columbus or Henry Hudson got here, and adding to or correcting the discourse and printed content which often excludes, is ignorant of, or provides a romanticized and incorrect version of Indigenous people’s perspectives, experiences, and contributions.  We were here before European contact, we’re still here surviving and thriving, and we will continue correcting the information regarding our Indigenous communities’ contributions to contemporary contexts.  This includes the wisdom and content that Indigenous people provide to modern-day educational, academic, governance, and other disciplines, topics, and contexts.

I am proud to be part of an evaluation community at CREA that is leading the way to encompass the history, values, perspectives, strengths, and contributions that our collective and strong diversity represents.  Some of these evaluation roots date back decades and some trace back centuries.  Others are unknown and/or are being re-awakened, recovered, and revived as we strive to understand our origin stories and the cultural, historical, and intellectual traditions of our Indigenous relatives and ancestors.  Undoubtedly, our awakening process is as critical to what we create as evaluators: designs, studies, publications, presentations, trainings, and transformative change that are sustained by the communities we humbly serve.  The journey as well as all the people, places, projects, and insights along the way provide a rich context in which we situationally understand more about ourselves, our traditions, our communities, and our broader academic context.

When the historical, contextual, technical, and content knowledge of Indigenous and underrepresented people is not woven into the more contemporary evaluation fabric, we are in conflict and ignoring the very mission, vision, values, and goals that our professional evaluation community (AEA) is supposed to uphold.  If we are to improve, increase, promote, and support activities that make for more effective evaluators and evaluations then as a profession, we must acknowledge, accept, and address the severe lack of equity, inclusion, ethical consideration, and legal protections critically missing from most evaluation activities, curriculum, studies, and discourse.

Current controversy provides a significant example for reflection and consideration.  Within both Indigenous and academic communities, I am often asked about the conflict surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the #NoDAPL counter-movement launched by human, water, and earth rights protectors from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.  #NoDAPL seeks to block a $3.8B, 1,100-mile fracked-oil pipeline currently under construction from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois. DAPL is slated to cross Lakota Treaty Territory at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where it would be laid underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the continent, endangering a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream. DAPL would also impact many sites that are sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and other Indigenous nations.

As a culturally responsive community, and as competent and skilled evaluators, we all must understand the cultural, contextual, historical, and legal implications of DAPL and similar projects with Indigenous communities and Tribal nations.  This is one reason why the Indigenous origin stories must be part of the broader evaluation narrative so our “intellectual” evaluative foundations are aware, accurate, informed, inclusive, comprehensive, responsive, and responsible for situating our practice within a much longer and mostly unknown, destructive history than our contemporary publications, agencies, and evaluators acknowledge. Claiming expertise, ignorance, or other falsehoods is not acceptable if we profess to be a global evaluation community.

Like many projects – research, evaluation, and otherwise – conducted with Indigenous people, DAPL has deep, destructive, and illegal historical roots.  The project is in violation of treaty rights afforded the Standing Rock Sioux as a sovereign nation, reflecting the lack of recognition of Tribes as sovereign nations that stretches back to the earliest treaties enacted in 1774 between colonists and Indigenous Tribal nations.  How many research and evaluation projects have been enacted with Indigenous communities to “extract” knowledge and data without due consideration for Indigenous ownership of that knowledge and data?  Far too many!  And this must stop, for ethical, moral, legal, and professional reasons.

Reflecting on the DAPL project reminds us that our broader evaluation community is also about power, networks, and resources.  The perspectives and experiences of the “others” or “have nots” is greatly underreported in our evaluation, academic, education, and other contexts.  We only need to look at who gets funded, published, promoted, elected, or represented on key commissions, editorial review boards, or attends “invite only” events to see that while we talk about inclusion, equity, and diversity, there is little evidence of it in our “community” of practice.  What business interests, amount of dedicated resources, and professional practices are most prevalent in our evaluation community?  It depends on whose conference and what context you are in.  But the interests, practices and viewpoints of Indigenous and other marginalized groups are consistently and significantly absent!

DAPL and the #NoDAPL movement also remind us that our broader evaluation community privileges the written word and values certain evaluation voices – largely white and male – more than others.  A content analysis of AEA journals and evaluation published literature from the 1970s to the present (n=3,305 articles) demonstrates racialized and cultural incongruence issues that are consistently seen between program participants and evaluators stemming from white privilege, wealth inequities, and inequitable distribution of wealth along cultural lines in the United States.  Similar inequities appear when we consider whose voices are heard and respected in discussion around the DAPL project.  For example, DAPL was originally routed through Bismarck, ND, but was redirected in response to the voices of the powerful and political concerns of a municipality over drinking water.  However, voices against the inequitable, unethical, and unlawful treatment of a sovereign Tribal nation remain unheard, not covered by mainstream media as human or environmental concerns.  I welcome emerging voices that tell different stories in different ways – voices like those of Carl Sack, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is using critical cartography as a culturally-responsive and scientifically-sound method to provide a counter-narrative to the lack of media coverage of the historic, Indigenous and #NoDAPL perspective.

 

black-snake

Figure 1.  Sack, C. (2016). The Black Snake in Sioux country: showing the Dakota Access Pipeline reroute through unceded treaty lands and its consequences.   Retrieved from https://northlandia.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/a-nodapl-map/

Where are the social justice evaluators and researchers?  Who will give voice to the historic and contemporary experiences and stories of the people, land, and destruction based on forced removal and contemporary trauma and violence stemming from DAPL? How is our evaluation community holding up the mission of “generating knowledge about effective human action” when we can’t even make a joint statement about #NoDAPL, let alone send a commissioned group of evaluators to ND?  Surely, the Canadian Evaluation Society and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission give us an example of how that is done!   Inclusion and action are the responsibility of everyone who claims to be a principled evaluator within the larger the evaluation profession.  Yes, YOU are being called to action because knowing better should mean doing better!  Standing Rock is just another contemporary example of centuries of injustices, destruction, trauma, and death dealt out to Indigenous people where most of the world stood by.  I am asking you at #NoDAPL and in other contexts to stand with us as global academic #warriors in solidarity as together as transformative evaluators.  In turn, you too will be transformed.

The bottom line is that I feel at home with CREA.  This is the interdependent place where we engage as family to draw enlightenment, continue to grow, and gather support from all races, ethnicities, contexts, cultures, socio-economic, gender, orientation, different abilities, and other diversity components as strengths to stand with us on the front lines.  Processing our ancient pain or contemporary trauma continues to be largely minimized, ignored, denied, and/or aggressively blocked by most post-contact people, institutions, literature, and systems.  Truly this can be paralyzing at times, and is a problem compounded by the low numbers of Indigenous academics who can add our communities’ voices to the mainstream narrative. So we need support, solidarity, and collegial partnerships.  CREA provides the place for speaking, sharing, and celebrating all that our community brings to evaluation; it is only through the stories, sacrifices, struggles, teachings and strengths of our ancestors/relatives coupled consciously and courageously with our CREA community that many of us Indigenous academics can continue.

In closing, I offer my perspective in the most humble and sacred way.  My words and vulnerabilities are my perspectives alone and are shared within context knowing that some of my Indigenous relatives died on the longest Trail of Tears journeys, were raped and killed by colonists, and continue to be treated as sub-humans suffering, traumatized, and dying on the lands that we were forced to move onto.  Yet we find ways to survive contribute and thrive.  As Waapalaneexkweew (Flying Eagle Woman; Accompanied by the Four Eagles), it is my responsibility to use my life to keep telling our origin and contemporary stories until the day Creator takes me back to the spirit world.  And from my deeply grateful heart, I’m so honored that we’ve created more academic, educational, and community spaces to share the truths of Indigenous perspectives that will continue transform us towards a more equitable and empowered future. I feel your strength, my beautiful CREA family, and I know Indian Country does too.  Anushiik (thank you) for being in it with us for the long haul.  We are one Tribe walking the Red Road, so see you soon.

Sincerely, Critically, and Indigenously Yours,

Waapalaneexkweew and my English name is Nicole Bowman (Mohican/Lunaape), PhD

Evaluator & Researcher, University of Wisconsin-Madison (www.wcer.wisc.edu/)

President, Bowman Performance Consulting, Shawano WI (www.bpcwi.com)

If you’d like more information to contextualize my comments, I suggest the following:

 

Bigelow & Peterson (Eds.). (2003). Rethinking Columbus. Milwaukee, WI:  Rethinking Schools.

Deloria, V. (1988). Custer died for your sins: An Indian manifesto; with new preface. Norman: University of Oklahoma.

Deloria, V. (1995). Red earth, white lies: Native Americans and the myth of scientific fact. New York: Scribner.

Hood, S., Hopson, R. K., & Frierson, H. T. (2015). Continuing the journey to reposition culture and cultural context in evaluation theory and practice.  Greenwich CT:  Information Age Publishing.

Tuhiwai Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: research and Indigenous peoples. Dunedin, New Zealand: Zed Books Limited.

Dr. Bowman on CREA Blog

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Dr. Aluli-Meyer reminded us about the importance of transformative epistemologies that incorporate ways of knowing, ways of being, and ways of doing. She encouraged us as students of culturally responsive evaluation and assessment to challenge narrow cultrocentric standards and ideas that limit our ability, and tap into the brilliance of our mind, body, and spirit!

In leaving the Palmer house with Joe O’Hara (Dublin City University) and Alfredo Artiles (Arizona State U) on the Friday after the closing keynote, I knew I had been CREA’ed – that sense of having been at a special place where something special happened.  In fact, the gathering of this group of interdisciplinary and intergenerational scholars at that particular place of city, in this particular social, political, economic global milieu is historic, agenda and precedent setting, and worthy of continual repeating.

I recall hearing a colleague say at the inaugural conference that these are all the people you go to see at AEA and now they are all in the same room.  I also recall one of the keynote speakers from the inaugural conference, Eric Jolly (Science Museum of Minnesota), suggesting that the knowledge base in that room at CREA could essentially contribute to rewriting and rethinking research and evaluation agendas in major philanthropic, academic, government, and community board rooms around the country and potentially the world.  I believe him and I can’t wait until the 4th International conference!

Author

Rodney Hopson is a professor at George Mason University and Faculty Affiliate, UIUC – CREA

 

*Original post found here.

CREA Partners with Evaluation 2016 in Atlanta

BPC is very pleased to announce CREA’s second partnership with AEA to provide another outstanding  thread of pre-conference workshops pertinent to culturally responsive evaluation. Dr. Bowman will be a part of CREA’s team of presenters. Please take a look and we hope to see you there.

CREA Education Comes to Atlanta through Evaluation 2016

The Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) has partnered with the American Evaluation Association (AEA) to offer a unique thread of professional development training options as part of the pre- and post-conference professional development workshops during Evaluation 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. CREA has created six workshop opportunities that focus on evaluation theory, methods, and practice grounded in culturally responsive evaluation.

CREA Professional Development Workshops

Contemporary Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Latino Communities
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 | 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Presenters: Leah Christina Neubauer and Lisa Aponte-Soto

This workshop will focus on contemporary culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) practice with Latino communities. Latinos are the fastest growing population in the United States, accounting for 16.3 percent of the total population (2010 census). CRE with multinational, racial, and ethnic Latino communities demands highly skilled evaluators who can employ evaluation approaches which align and support diverse perspectives in all evaluation phases. The session will begin with a brief history of social justice oriented evaluation theories, CRE, and Latino Critical Race Theory (LatCrit). This paradigmatic framing will provide a foundation to discuss the nine-step CRE process in action with Latino communities. Facilitators will highlight synthesized literature and draw on their own indigenous praxis-oriented perspectives. Participants should come prepared to ‘dig deep’ and share their experiences with Latino-focused evaluation planning and practice.

Foundations of Culturally Responsive Evaluation
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 | 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Presenters: Rodney K. Hopson and Karen E. Kirkhart

This workshop addresses theoretical foundations of Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) and the strategies that operationalize it in evaluation practice. Following opening introductions, presenters set the context with a brief history of how the evaluation profession is coming to a clearer appreciation of the centrality of culture. Against this backdrop, the history of CRE’s development is highlighted and key theoretical elements are identified. The workshop then transitions from theory to practice in three segments. The first segment pairs analysis of evaluation contexts with reflections on one’s own cultural location as an evaluator. This prepares participants to consider methods that are culturally congruent with their contexts of practice, noting potential strengths and limitations of each. CRE values the return of benefit to the community, and the third segment examines both methods and issues in communicating findings. Presenters pair examples from the literature with participants’ own examples to connect workshop content with participants’ contexts, interests, and concerns. The closing segment returns to Big Picture issues such as the fundamental grounding of CRE in social justice and how this poses important metaevaluation questions that connect to both ethics and validity.

Original Instructions: Utilizing Indigenous Knowledge, Frameworks, & Case Studies to Inform & Transform Evaluation Practice
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 | 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Presenters: Fiona Cram and Nicole R. Bowman

This workshop focuses on the culturally responsive evaluation of services and programs provided for and/or designed by Indigenous peoples. The workshop is structured to answer three key questions in Indigenous Evaluation (IE): 1.) Who should undertake IE? 2.) What do evaluators need to understand about Indigenous contexts? How should IE be done?

Cultural Responsiveness and Mixed Methods Research
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 | 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Presenters: Jori Hall

This engaging half-day workshop presents an introduction to mixed methods research, focusing on cultural responsiveness. Participants will explore key principles of cultural responsiveness and consider how these principles can be applied to mixed methods research. Topics covered related to mixed methods research include the benefits and challenges of mixed methods; when to use mixed methods; paradigmatic issues; research design conceptualization; and data integration. By attending the workshop, participants will be better able to apply cultural responsive understandings to the crafting of their own mixed methods project.

Culturally Relevant Evaluation and Research from a Quantitative Perspective
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 | 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Presenters: Toks Fashola

This workshop will address culturally relevant and evaluative research from a quantitative perspective. The workshop seeks to engage the workshop participants in the process of creating a culturally relevant topic, and exploring quantitative ways to address this topic. The process will involve creating culturally relevant and quantitatively sound methods to create constructs, surveys, data dictionaries, and to administer enter, and interpret data. The outcome(s) will help to create and produce data that are not only rigorous and robust, but also data that can address topics of social justice, culturally relevant evaluation, and theories of change. The workshop will use some examples of projects that currently exist, and projects that are in progress. Workshop participants will be encouraged and guided to become informed consumers of quantitative research.

Utilization of a Racial Equity Lens to help Guide Strategic Engagement and Evaluation
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 | 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Presenters: Paul Elam, Willard Walker, and LaShaune Johnson

This workshop focuses on the practical use of a racial equity lens when conducting evaluation. The framework argues that culture and race are important considerations when conducting an evaluation because we believe that there are both critical and substantive nuances that are often missed, ignored, and/or misinterpreted when an evaluator is not aware of the culture of those being evaluated. Participants will be provided with a Template for Analyzing Programs through a Culturally Responsive and Racial Equity Lens, designed to focus deliberately on an evaluation process that takes race, culture, equity, and community context into consideration.

Register for Evaluation 2016 and learn more about the CREA workshops by visiting the Evaluation 2016 website.

International Policy Update – 13 Different Ways AEA Will Support the Global Evaluation Agenda

From Mike Hendricks, AEA Representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), with contributions from Jim Rugh, EvalPartners Co-Coordinator

Mike-Hendricks.jpgJim Rugh 2010.01.16.JPG

In an exciting and important development, the AEA Board of Directors has accepted the recommendations of its International Working Group and soon the AEA management will initiate 13 separate actions to support the brand-new (and first-ever) Global Evaluation Agenda 2016–2020, also known as EvalAgenda2020.  To our knowledge, this forward-thinking decision makes AEA the first Voluntary Organization for Professional Evaluation (VOPE) in the world to develop such an action plan.

In addition, the table below shows a second admirable aspect to this effort. As you can see, AEA will work to support all three dimensions of EvalAgenda2020: (1) the enabling environment for evaluation (including especially more demand for evaluation), (2) institutional capacities to commission and utilize evaluations, and (3) individual capacities to conduct evaluations.

Furthermore, AEA will work not just within the AEA membership or just within the United States, but will also to try to create knowledge sharing opportunities with other VOPEs and other countries. We can all be very proud of the way AEA has decided to be a resource and create opportunities for relationships within the evaluation community around the world.

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Now, of course, the real work begins. Envisioning these activities is one thing, but making them a reality is quite different. If you would like to become involved in any of these 13 different ways, you are most welcome. To submit your name into the pool of volunteers, please email tmadan@eval.org and tell us which effort(s) interest you.

Also, if you are involved in a Topical Interest Group (TIG) or a local affiliate, discuss with your colleagues where their interests overlap with these 13 initiatives. A quick review of the list of TIGs and local affiliates suggests that there are lots of possibilities here.

Finally, come to the special session at our October conference to hear President-elect Kathy Newcomer and Executive Director Denise Roosendaal report on AEA’s most up-to-date plans. This will be a perfect opportunity to meet personally with AEA’s leaders and other colleagues who also want to get involved. Click here to download the 13 Initiatives. Click here to download the entire AEA International Strategy Document.

These are exciting times for evaluation globally. Kudos to the AEA Board of Directors for helping to shape the future of our field.

*For more information visit http://www.eval.org/blog/international-policy-update—13-different-ways-aea-will-support-the-global-evaluation-agenda

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