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IPE TIG Week: Cool Tips from NPAIHB on Evaluation and Dissemination by Stephanie Craig Rushing, Celena Ghost Dog, Amanda Gaston, Grazia Cunningham, and Allyson Kelley

We are the team at Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) and the Northwest Native American Research Center for Health  / Public Health Research Academy.  

We (Stephanie Craig Rushing, Celena Ghost Dog, Amanda Gaston, Grazia Cunningham at NPAIHB, and Allyson Kelley at AKA PLLC) have been evaluating culturally relevant programs, interventions, curricula, and conferences for a long time.

What do we evaluate? We evaluate culturally relevant conferences, classes, curricula, and more.
Why do we evaluate? To keep a pulse on what is happening for American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Evaluation keeps us up to date on what is happening, what people need, how programs are being implemented, and how we can improve them.
When do we evaluate? It depends.
How do we evaluate, and how does evaluation make people feel? We use a blend of Indigenous methods, mixed methods, and advocacy/participatory approaches. We want people to feel inspired, connected, and informed when they read our evaluations.

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it crash, does it still make a sound? If we write an evaluation report that no one reads, does it still count?

Here are four Cool Tips with examples to ensure your evaluation counts – and the tree doesn’t fall without anyone to witness it.

  1. Have a plan for disseminating your evaluation. Who is responsible for dissemination? This is the source. What message do you want to share? This can be anything, but ensure it is decolonized, approved, and honors Indigenous peoples. Who is your audience? A funding agency like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has specific evaluation reporting requirements. How can disseminating your evaluation increase access to information, prompt changes in behaviors and beliefs, and promote health equity within individuals, families, communities, tribal nations, and systems?
  2. Consider what people want to know and how they want to know it. An academic might want a peer-reviewed journal article, a community member might want a graphical abstract, or a group of evaluators might read the American Evaluation Association Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation Newsletter. A high school or college student might check out social media sites.
  3. Think and act like a songwriter. Good songs tell us who was there, what happened, and how people felt. How do you want people to feel after reading, knowing, seeing, and listening to your evaluation process?  Be a songwriter when writing an evaluation report. Use YouTube and other social media platforms to show what you did. Communicate details like evaluation dates, times, and places. Demonstrate your evaluation process by using visuals like this one.
  4. Document the evaluation. Save the evaluation in a shared folder; we use Box or G-Drive for our files. Make sure people who need access have access. When documenting the evaluation, remember to use Indigenous evaluation methods and stories.
Save the Trees: Options Beyond Print

Electronic reports help protect the environment, but many partners still want printed evaluation reports. More than half of American Indians don’t have access to high-speed Internet. This widens the gap in health disparities, access to knowledge, and electronic resources.

Be intentional,
About the work you are doing,
Messages you share,
How you feel doing the work,
How others feel reading your work.

Indigenous people have been evaluating since the beginning of time. Evaluation was and is a  foundational aspect of their survival and victories. Evaluation continues to be a powerful tool to promote self-determination, self-governance, and decolonization of data and knowledge. But evaluation is most powerful when we know evaluation, access it, live it, and practice it.


The American Evaluation Association is hosting Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE) TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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