The call for Indigenous data sovereignty (ID-Sov) —the right of a nation to govern the collection, ownership, and application of its own data—has grown in intensity and scope over the past five years. To date three national-level Indigenous data sovereignty networks exist: Te Mana Raraunga - Maori Data Sovereignty Network, the United States Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network (USIDSN), and the Maiamnayri Wingara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Sovereignty Group in Australia. Similar initiatives are underway in Hawaii and Sweden. Currently, these networks are engaging in an informal, and somewhat adhoc fashion, to share information and strategies, hold joint events, and collaborate on research. In the last two years alone this spirit of collaboration has produced four events, six joint panel/workshops initiatives, and a co-edited book, Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda. Freely available online, the book had about 2,000 downloads within a month of publication, reflecting the very high level of interest in ID-Sov. These efforts notwithstanding, there are resource and infrastructure constraints to advancing the shared goals and aspirations of these ID-Sov stakeholders. What is needed is a more robust and coherent international collaboration to achieve impactful outcomes at the intersection of Indigenous data sovereignty, Indigenous data governance, and research.
The goals of the International Indigenous Data Sovereignty Interest Group are clearly aligned with the RDA mission of creating a global community to develop and adopt infrastructure that promotes data-sharing, data-driven research, and data use. Those of us already involved in the national-level networks are strong advocates for data-driven research and data use, and are also working in varied ways to build data capabilities beyond academic institutions, so as to benefit Indigenous communities. Through more effective collaboration, we seek to provide a highly visible international platform for ID-Sov that integrates and leverages existing ID-sov groups to create new opportunities for research and outreach. We also seek to attract new stakeholders beyond our current networks, including researchers, data users and indigenous communities. To that end all three existing ID-Sov networks have developed strong relationships with Indigenous stakeholders including tribes, Non Governmental Organisations, and Indigenous policy institutes, and researchers.