Data Sovereignty


Data sovereignty refers to a group or individual’s right to control and maintain their own data, which includes the collection, storage, and interpretation of data. Indigenous data sovereignty refers to the ability for Indigenous peoples to control their data and includes autonomy regarding a variety of data types such as oral traditionals, DNA/genomics, community health data, etc. Within the context of transnational indigenous sovereignty and self-determination movements, indigenous data sovereignty can be a powerful tool for those whom the data represents, which claims the rights of Indigenous peoples to use and interpret the data in a way that is accurate and appropriate given their circumstances, customs, and communal way of life. 

Relevant Literature

The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance are people and purpose-oriented, reflecting the crucial role of data in advancing Indigenous innovation and self-determination. These principles complement the existing FAIR principles encouraging open and other data movements to consider both people and purpose in their advocacy and pursuits.

Kayla Lar-Son, Indigenous Services and Programs Librarian at the University of British Columbia, presents “Data as Relation: Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Ethic of Care.” (video)

Smith, D.E. (2016). Governing data and data for governance: the everyday practice of Indigenous sovereignty, Ch. 7 in Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda. p. 117-138.

University of Texas LibGuide: Indigenous Data Sovereignty


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