Yá’át’ééh (hello) fellow evaluators! I am Alexandria Jauregui-Dusseau (Diné and Mexican), DHSc, AEA Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation Program Co-Chair, and Evaluation Specialist at the Center for Community Engaged Evaluation in the Community Health and Research Department of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Much like my learning about my own culture and traditional customs, my journey to the evaluation field was not a linear path. Most of what I have learned has been from my grandmother. She has been influential in guiding my learning and strengthening my connection to Diné customs. I continue to seek out Indigenous spaces in both my personal and professional life to honor my grandmother and our ancestors. I feel that learning more about Indigenous ways and engaging with other Indigenous people is a way I can show gratitude and ensure that knowledge is shared. However, when asked to write this blog post, I hesitated because I still have much to learn about my culture and evaluation and I did not feel I had anything to contribute. Yet, I realized it was important to take the opportunity to share how I am learning to amplify Indigenous voices and perspectives in my work, what experiences have contributed to this, and how I am using those learnings and experiences to establish a firm foundation of principles for conducting evaluations.
Firstly, I am fortunate that my direct supervisor is also Diné and has guided my learning about evaluation, specifically Indigenous evaluation. It has been helpful to talk with someone who can relate to reconnecting with their culture and how it has impacted their work. This is a unique situation, and not everyone will have an Indigenous co-worker or leader.
When attending the AEA conference last year, I learned about the Topical Interest Groups (TIGs) and found the Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE) TIG. After attending the IPE TIG business meeting, I reached out to Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro, the TIG chair, and expressed interest in joining the leadership team. The experience has been invaluable. The leadership team is a welcoming group that has a vast amount of knowledge and expertise. It was intimidating at first, but I am a strong believer in “knowing what you don’t know,” and I think seeking out others that are more knowledgeable is a good way to expand your understanding and knowledge.
I have been able to apply my learnings by being a part of an all-Indigenous research and evaluation team. This is an external project with the Center of Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity (CIIHE). As evaluators, our role is to empower and equip our Indigenous partners to conduct an evaluation of their interventions. A first step for me was to educate myself about the Indigenous Evaluation Framework by Joan LaFrance and Richard Nichols. Through this experience, I am actively learning about Indigenous Evaluation alongside my Diné supervisor and centering the voices of our Indigenous partners.
Meeting fellow Indigenous evaluators and learning from them early in my evaluation career, as well as being a part of an Indigenous evaluation, has helped lay a foundation that I recognize with gratitude. From these experiences, my future evaluations will implement the principles of Indigenous evaluation and amplify Indigenous voices and values.
Below are my hot tips for those who are new to evaluation and who are trying to better understand how to amplify Indigenous voices in evaluation.
- Utilize resources available to you and seek out additional information.
- Engage with the IPE TIG at the AEA conference or through the website and seek out additional Indigenous evaluation spaces
- Surround yourself with people more knowledgeable than you
- Seek out a mentor who can guide and teach you about Indigenous Evaluation and how to give voice to the Indigenous community in a respectful way.
- Express gratitude to those who take the time to help you and approach them in a respectful way.
- Be humble and remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Learning takes time and effort.
- Indigenous Evaluation Framework by Joan LaFrance and Richard Nichols
- Center of Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity
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