Indigenous Information Research Group

UW IIRG

photo of Cheryl

The Indigenous Information Research Group (IIRG) is composed of Native and Indigenous scholars at the University of Washington Information School (UW iSchool). IIRG research lies at the intersection of technology, information policy, and Indigenous issues. IIRG is headed by Dr. Cheryl Metoyer, Associate Professor Emerita at the UW iSchool and Adjunct Associate Professor in American Indian Studies.

IIRG Scholars

photo of RossIisaaksiichaa (Ross) Braine, MSIM 2015, he serves as the UW tribal liaison and the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity’s director of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ (pronounced “wah-sheb-altuh” and translated as Intellectual House). In his capacity as both tribal liaison and director, Braine keeps his eye trained on the whole tribal landscape, surveying it from his multiple perspectives as an educator, advisor, and de facto diplomat, working most often with more than 60 local tribes, but also maintaining an open door to 367 tribes nationwide.

photo of MirandaMiranda Belarde-Lewis, Ph.D. 2013, currently works with the Frye, Museum of Glass, and the Bill Reid Gallery in British Columbia on a contract basis as a guest curator. She will join the iSchool as an assistant professor in FY 2018. Her dissertation, “From Six Directions: Protecting Zuni Knowledge in Multiple Environments,” explored how a specific Indigenous community simultaneously documents and protects its knowledge can contribute to information science studies by expanding our understanding of what constitutes archives, historical documents and visual knowledge. Visit Miranda’s website.

photo of Juan CarlosJuan-Carlos Chavez, Ph.D. 2017, is an Associate Director for the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium and the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline. He holds a principle investigator appointment at University of Washington's Earth and Space Sciences Department. His dissertation, “Native American Telecommunication Independence: One Step Above Smoke Signals,” examined the decision making process involved in the implementation of information and communication technologies and its impact on the respective tribal communities. His research interests include Native American Systems of Knowledge, Information Poverty and Digital-Divide. His current projects involve high altitude balloon science and rocketry education for Northwest Tribes.

photo of SherylSheryl Day, Ph.D. 2017, completed her dissertation, “Talking Story: The Militarization of Guåhan and Flows of Information in Chamoru Systems of Knowledge.” It was a study of language policies as information policies and the myths that shaped the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of the Chamorro people of Guåhan as expressed through stories by the Chamoru Manåmko’, or elders. Inafa’maolek, the concept of Chamorro relationality grounded this study and utilized ‘Talking Story,’ the Pacific Islander method of communicating and sharing information, for data gathering. Visit Sheryl's website.

photo of MarisaMarisa Duarte, Ph.D. 2013, is currently an assistant professor with the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Her dissertation, “Mary Gates Network Sovereignty: Investigating the Implications of Tribally Owned Internet Infrastructures,” proposed that tribes that have ownership and control over the processes of broadband Internet deployment within their communities to increase the capacity for tribal leaders to organize around critical issues affecting the health of tribal lands, waters, and peoples. Her current research is on the social and political impacts of information and communication technologies in Indigenous communities. She advocates for intellectual freedom and social justice, especially in Native American and borderland communities. Visit Marisa's website

photo of ClaritaClarita Lefthand-Begay, Ph.D. 2014, is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and an assistant professor at the University of Washington Information School. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the protections (e.g., tribal codes, laws, guidelines, declarations, etc.) for indigenous knowledge in the United States, tribal water security, and climate health and resiliency. Indigenous knowledge systems are foundational to each of her projects. She is currently the Director of the Tribal Water Security Project, a project that examines the water insecurity challenges faced by tribes in the United States and around the globe. As a researcher and tribal community member, Clarita supports efforts to strengthen tribal well-being while respecting and honoring self-determination and cultural revitalization.

photo of SandySandra Littletree, Ph.D. Candidate, with proposed dissertation title, “History of Tribal Libraries: Sovereignty, Information, and Empowerment.” Her current research interests include Indigenous Librarianship and Indigenous systems of knowledge. She was among five researchers to receive the inaugural Cobell Summer Graduate Research Fellowship in 2017. She serves on the advisory board of the University of British Columbia, First Nations Curriculum Concentration. Visit Sandra’s website.

Affiliate IIRG Members

photo of IvetteIvette Bayo Urban, Ph.D. Candidate, MEd., MSIS, focuses on issues of technology access and use, from a perspective of culture, identity and gender, in her research. She is a feminist and indigenist scholar attentive to the complex and uneven relations that are embedded in socio-technical systems. Her recent TEDx talk presented lessons learned from her research on how our stories, actions and choices, with and about technology, shape our values and are critical aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Visit Ivette's website.