Binish Ahmed*

Republished with authors permission this open access article from Critical Policy Studies, 2022,


What is required to decolonize policy research in doing knowledge production about Indigenous peoples? Policy studies has been complicit in maintaining a central methodological policy research problem: the ongoing prevalence of hegemonic imperial and colonial knowledge production practices in relation to Indigenous peoples. This problem persists through policy researchers producing anti-Indigenous genocidal native-place-invisibilization in scholarship. Ambiguous relationality is another mechanism through which elimination of the natives takes place in research – it is when researchers deliberately/unintentionally omit naming and visiblizing their positionality in relation to the native-places the researchers are working with. Undoing harms emerging from native-place-invisibilization and ambiguous relationality requires a 'grounded normativity' oriented native place consciousness, naming and visibilization of the native place(s) the researchers work on/with, respecting sovereign Indigenous research jurisdictions, and applying an Indigenous Policy Research Framework (IPRF). Decolonization as a solution to the policy problem being tackled in this paper looks like counter-hegemonic radical redistribution of power back to the community when conducting Indigenous policy research. The IPRF approach is formulated using a literature review methodology and consists of guiding questions and principles to help steward the processes of decolonizing policy research. The aim is to support the emergence of radically restorative research justice practices and repair historically harmful relations between knowledge-producing systems/institutions and the Indigenous communities about whom the knowledge production is done.


For several years I have been asking, what does it look like to decolonize critical policy and policy research more broadly, as it pertains to knowledge-production impacting Indigenous peoples. This question became particularly pertinent for me as an Indigenous Kashmiri ciswoman in the process of determining the right research framework for my dissertation when studying Indigenous peoples' resistance to dispossession and displacement from their ancestral lands due to settler-colonial policies. In this process, I observed that both the predominantly positivist policy studies and post-positivist critical policy studies literature (marginal but growing in policy studies) lacked an appreciation for what is required to do research for or about Indigenous peoples in reliable ways, as opposed to continuing the historically harmful ways.

Both critical policy research as well as policy studies research more broadly continues to be engaged in ongoing harmful colonial and imperial knowledge production practices. Such research generates harm instead of addressing 'wicked' policy 'problems.' These works should be understood as scholarship engaged in the structural maintenance of a central/foundational methodological problem with policy research: the ongoing prevalence of hegemonic imperial and colonial knowledge production practices that enact anti-Indigenous genocidal native-place-invisibilization. Unless this problem is addressed, the policy studies knowledge production canon will continue to remain implicated directly or indirectly in outcomes of assimilation, annihilation, extermination, genocide, dispossession, displacement, and extractive violences faced by Indigenous peoples. The genocidal extractivist violences are 'knowledge-based' as well as 'resource-based' from Indigenous peoples' communities and lands.

I use a literature review methodology in this paper to do two things. One, I identify how critical policy research and policy studies research broadly has been implicated in producing hegemonic imperial and colonial knowledge production. Two, I identify principles of an Indigenous Policy Research Framework (IPRF) for policy studies, which, when applied to knowledge production practices, can prevent the further reproduction of those harms. The principles of the IPRF are from my drawing on oral knowledges as well as the literature cited and referenced in this paper. Ancestral knowledges passed down orally in the Indigenous Kashmiri community to me, and having been raised on the land called mauj Kasheer (mother Kashmir) also inform the formulation and presentation of these principles. I propose an Indigenous Policy Research Framework approach as the policy solution that demands counter-hegemony in policy research, requiring a radical redistribution of power in how and why policy research effecting Indigenous peoples is done. Participating in such methodological shifts when doing policy research work can help move policy studies toward decolonization and significant transformative research justice outcomes.

It is common knowledge among Indigenous research methodologists working in Eurocentric academic institutions and Ethics Review offices at such institutions that research has earned the reputation of being a dirty word and work among Indigenous peoples due to the problematic ways knowledge production has been conducted in relation to Indigenous people. Indigenous, racialized, and marginalized peoples are familiar with the historic to ongoing patterns of harm where knowledge gets extracted about them from their communities, while hegemonic racist imperial and colonial interests are advanced.

What are the prevalent hegemonic colonial and imperial research practices within policy studies that need changing? In a call for papers for IPPA 2019 session I organized called 'Decolonizing Critical Policy Research: Moving Toward Producing Relevant and Reliable Knowledge,' I posed the former question through a call for papers. The aim of the call was to have policy researchers attend to the call for decolonizing policy research broadly. It stated (Ahmed 2019)

Through prominent social movement work led by Indigenous, Black, subaltern and feminist organizing, (and amplified by/documented through social media,) we have come to witness a rich breadth of anti-colonial, and critical public policy analysis that was formerly situated at the margins of policy studies. While the former voices and knowledges have always existed ontologically, policy studies as a disciplinary body did not engage them at the center, dismissing these alternative ontologies, ways of knowing and knowledges. Due to the denial of meaningful methodological engagement with these epistemic and ontological groups, their intersectional locations, as well as their distinct knowledge traditions, the production of both 'relevant' and 'reliable' new knowledge in policy studies has suffered.

Whereas the production of knowledge about marginalized, racialized and colonized peoples by outsider 'experts' and/or using methods which are foreign to them has evidently shown to produce harm and problematic outcomes in much of the literature, such practices still persist. What has to happen to address the former challenge? What changes ought to occur in policy studies research approaches for greater engagement with theories, methodological approaches and voices that span beyond the Eurocentric ones? Which practices may stay, which must change, and what will compel such changes? Taking as a premise that further harm toward racialized, colonized and marginalized peoples globally is unacceptable, this session calls for papers which identify and critically engage with existing challenges with respect to the production of new knowledges in policy studies, when addressing policy research from both critical and anti-colonial methodological lenses. This session calls for papers which highlight research designs/frameworks that can guide policy researchers when creating new knowledges, which serve rather than harm marginalized communities. The session is additionally calling for papers which draw attention to policy research frameworks that are rooted in knowledge traditions that extend beyond the dominant ones.

Research questions for this session are as following: What does decolonizing critical policy studies research require? What does undoing harmful dominant practices of knowledge production look like? Which practices have to emerge? Which practices have to dis- continue? What are examples of policy research done from a critical and anti-colonial standpoint? [emphasis mine]

In this call for papers, I asked respondents to carefully consider what changes in methodological practices had to emerge and prevail for the continuation of colonization and recolonization through research to stop in policy studies. I represent and highlight the questions I asked here:

What does decolonizing critical policy studies research require?

What does undoing harmful dominant practices of knowledge production look like? Which practices have to emerge? Which practices have to discontinue?

Importantly for this paper, what needs to be done to decolonize the relationship between Indigenous peoples and policy research?

I wrote the majority of this paper 1 in Tkaronto, the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Treaty territory, the traditional homelands of the Anishnaabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Wendat peoples. This territory is also home to many urban-Indigenous peoples, such as the Inuit, Méti, First Nations. Due to the global-imperial settler-colonial state-system's created displacement-migration, among other factors, Tkaronto is also a host and home to Indigenous peoples from around the globe, such as the Mayan, Maori, Uyghurs, Tibetan, Tíano, Palestinian, and Kashmiri peoples. Here, displacement-migration refers to Indigenous peoples (and nonhuman species) being unable to continue to live on their own traditional territories due to reasons such as the effects of environmental racism, climate change, exploitative and extractivist corporate-capitalist energy projects, migration and expansion of settler populations on their traditional territories.

I have been living and working in Tkaronto as a guest and visitor. In the early stages of working on this paper, I stayed in my ancestral homeland of Kashmir, where I was born. In all the contexts I have lived in while writing this paper, Indigenous peoples have been resisting settler colonial domination on stolen land. Like Cherokee scholar Jeff Corntassel and Métis scholar Adam Gaudry ( 2014), to me, bringing awareness to the knowledge that where I am living/working are stolen Indigenous lands and territories is part of a relational 'responsibility-based ethic of truth telling' with the aim of teaching, learning, and consciousness-raising that supports Indigenous pathways to decolonization and resurgence. Dene scholar Glen Coulthard and Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson have underscored the importance of forging 'grounded normativity' oriented place-based solidarities in scholarship. 'Grounded normativity' refers to (Coulthard and Simpson 2016, 254)

the ethical frameworks provided by Indigenous place-based practices and associated forms of knowledge.10 Grounded normativity houses and reproduces the practices and procedures, based on deep reciprocity, that are inherently informed by an intimate relationship to place. Grounded normativity teaches us how to live our lives in relation to other people and nonhuman life forms in a profoundly nonauthoritarian, nondominating, nonexploitive manner. Grounded normativity teaches us how to be in respectful diplomatic relationships with other Indigenous and non-Indigenous nations with whom we might share territorial responsibilities or common political or economic interests. Our relationship to the land itself generates the processes, practices, and knowledges that inform our political systems, and through which we practice solidarity.

Aligning our work within the aforementioned realities opens up space for a 'grounded normativity' oriented native place conscious research, which requires researchers to critically examine: the positionalities of who the researchers are, thinking through how to be in relationships of reciprocity and accountability with those whose traditional territories the researchers are on/considering research with, critically consider whose governance systems dominate the native 2 land they are on, and how the researcher is located in relation to those dominant systems and modalities of governance, i.e. benefit-ing from imperial and colonial systems, or in opposition to it, and if so, how. Additionally, this lens is important when policy scholars consider this in relation to the knowledge produced about/on/with Indigenous peoples that they are reading, reviewing, and considering.

Many policy scholars and some critical policy scholars avoid using the language of 'I' to avoid recognizing their own (a writer's) subjectivity; they regard it as a distraction to the 'focus' of their work. The former approach is also adopted in order to suggest an 'objectivist,' universalist, or 'neutral' positionality by the author. I use 'I' to disrupt the former positivist and sometimes post-positivist methodological practice in the literature. I make this methodological choice with the goal of gently reminding the readers that the words and voice in this paper are from a specific person, which in my case is a racialized, Asian Indigenous, differently-abled, Kashmiri cis-woman instead of a universal, neutral person/positionality.

A neutral, objectivist 'gaze' on Indigenous policy research has played an integral role from the historical to the present moment in how imperial and colonial knowledge production has been done (Smith 1999). Here, the researcher assumes a 'universal,' detached, objective gaze, and conducts policy research on Indigenous peoples and issues as 'objects' or 'subjects,' denying engagement with them as humans/communities with abilities, sovereign research jurisdictions, power/agency, ability to consent, holding expectations of reciprocity, accountability, and respect. The deployment of such objectivity and omission of a researcher's positionality also re-perpetuates complicity with the widely prevalent false positivist discourse/notion that a researcher can exist outside a system of power, outside of a 'world system.'

The methodological omission and erasure of historic place-based relationalities between policy researchers and Indigenous lands/territories the researchers are doing research on/with is a mechanism through which policy researchers become complicit with the settler-colonial and imperial global systems of eliminating the natives. In both critical policy research and policy research broadly, such deliberate or unintentional omission places the researcher in a place of ambiguous relationality with the Indigenous peoples, where researchers remain silent about their own positionality, i.e. as a white European settler or displaced Indigenous person on another Indigenous peoples territory doing research. Such ambiguous relationality also casts the researchers as the assumed 'legitimate' voices with moral authority (whether they are native or non-natives,) potentially perpetuating an assumption that they are potentially 'legitimate' natives conducting reliable research. These are some of the ways the adoption of ambiguous relationality re- entrenches universalist-colonial and imperial-hegemonic relationalities through the myth of a neutral, objectivist gaze on Indigenous policy questions.

To illustrate the genocidal affects produced through the deployment of ambiguous relationality as a violent onto-epistemic anti-Indigenous methodological strategy across settler-colonial knowledge production contexts, I will share an example from my own lived experience in a settler-colonial context. In Tkaronto (part of the Dish With One Spoon Treaty territory) and surrounding areas, I have gotten to know some immigrant/ migrant communities who, just a generation ago, had little to no knowledge about native nations whose territories they were on. They did not know that the native nations, whose territories they lived and worked on, faced genocidal displacement and dispossession. Furthermore, as a result of genocidal anti-Indigenous knowledges these migrant com- munities had consumed through popular imperial/colonial legal, media and academic sources, they wrongly perceived European settlers as natives, and assumed they had migrated to a legitimately white-European-dominated place. Such perceptions are not an accident. The 'nation-building' myths were constructed and manufactured to benefit the white-European-supremacist post-Westphalian settler-colonial-nation-state of Canada as part of a strategy to annihilate the natives. In this former context, the ambiguous-relationality-oriented erasure of the natives emerged from, for example, the legal settler colonial assertion of European 'Crown' sovereignty/rights on Indigenous territories. Crown sovereignty has been asserted in courts on unceded Indigenous territories using the 'Doctrine of Discovery,' it implies that the European settlers dis- covered empty lands and 'settled' them (Lindberg 2010). In the context of research, when researchers present an ambiguous relationality, they benefit from settler-colonial myths of who the native is as well as re-perpetuate the erasure of the natives.

Cree, Saulteaux scholar Margaret Kovach says that Indigenous peoples have had 'a long history of interrelationship with a particular territory' ( 2009, 61). Kovach highlights that under some tribal methods, her research and writing would have been restricted epistemologically (Nêhiýaw) were she writing while being physically placed/situated on other Indigenous peoples' territories as an 'expatriate.' 'Place is what differentiates us from other tribal peoples, and what differentiates us from settler societies (this includes privileged and marginalized groups and/or positionalities). Place gives us identity' (Kovach 2009, 61) [emphasis mine]. The territory a researcher is living and working on in itself informs their onto-epistemic gaze, outlook, and understanding of the world. This is why it is imperative for researchers to critical-self-reflexively locate and name/ visiblize their positionality in relation to the territories they are on as an aspect of decolonizing their research methodology.

What else is required to decolonize critical policy research? What methodological shifts are required between Indigenous peoples and policy researchers so that research is no longer 'dirty work'?

Mapping the Principles of an Indigenous Policy Research Framework (IPRF)

To decolonize policy research and analysis, the adoption of an approach of counter- hegemony that shifts and undoes historical power relations of domination between policy studies and Indigenous peoples is required. In practice, this looks like what I call being native place conscious with a 'grounded normativity' (Coulthard and Simpson 2016) orientation and adopting an Indigenous Policy Research Framework (IPRF), where the following eleven questions need to be engaged and answered. These are:

Locating self – outsider/insider: Has the researcher critical-self reflexively located their positionality in relation to the native place and research question/project? Have they visibilized their positionality?

Relationship building: Does the researcher have a relationship with the nation(s) they intend to engage with for their research work? And, what kind of relation- ship is it?

Identify why the work is being done: Is it desired by the community? And does it benefit the community?

Engage, read and cite Indigenous knowledge holders and scholars: Is the work drawing on, and referencing Indigenous scholarship in its' literature review?

Sovereign Indigenous research jurisdictional (SIRJ) rights: How does the study design respect the sovereign Indigenous research jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples on research about them? How is the researcher being respectful of Indigenous peoples' self-determination, self-representation, and self-governance rights in doing the research?

Long-term relationships rather than parachuting: Has the researcher understood they should not be parachuting, and why that is a harmful practice?

Building relations that honor Indigenous and Tribal protocols: Does this work honor the Indigenous nations' protocols?

Collaborative partnerships: Whose research is this? Who is leading the work, and why?

Practicing proper knowledge attribution: What are the researcher's knowledge attribution practices?

Critical-self reflexivity: How has the researcher been critically self-reflexive about their positionality, power and privileges during the research from start to finish, as well as after they completed the study?

Research as a practice of counter-hegemony (disrupting the status quo): Can you conceptualize your policy research work as a practice of counter-hegemony? If so, how?

Each of the above questions invites policy researchers to think about the principles presented in detail later in this paper. All principles overlap and are connected to each other, rooted in a decolonial Indigenous Research Framework. Kovach ( 2009) has shown that 'Indigenous Research Frameworks are conceptual tools that can assist' in the efforts to restore and revive Indigenous peoples' knowledges through research practices. It is worth noting that I employ the language of a framework as a loose network of principles, and in that spirit, more principles and practices can be added to the repertoire of principles and practices described in this paper. I see this paper as an introduction to the IPRF-oriented practices as well as an intervention in the field of critical policy research and policy studies research broadly. The IPRF is not just relevant to scholars who produce research for/with Indigenous peoples, it is also applicable to those who read, review and/or analyze the former works. Anyone up-taking knowledges produced about Indigenous peoples must apply an IPRF oriented analysis when reviewing and/or analyzing the former works; taking such an approach will help manifest restorative research justice, as well as disrupt and discredit hegemonic colonial/imperial knowledge production. Conversely, those who uptake such works without applying the principles outlined in this paper are likely to be complicit in genocidal onto-epistemic erasures and anti-Indigenous racism.

The IPRF principles need to be applied across settler-colonial contexts for Indigenous peoples globally, while priortizing place-based and nation specific protocols. At present, the literature about the imperial Westphalian settler-colonial-nation-states global world- order in relation to Indigenous peoples has been studied and analyzed primarily within the context of White-European dominated settler-colonial states such as Canada, United States, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand; there is a need for greater attention to the resistance and resurgence efforts by Indigenous peoples to the genocidal imperial-settler- colonial-state structures in places like Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Indigenous peoples in these parts of the world have faced erasures even within the dominant literature of Indigenous studies. Without using the former critical understanding and an IPRF in these parts of the world, the ongoing counter-hegemonic life-world-sustaining resistance efforts of Indigenous peoples in these repressive, extractive, and violent genocidal con- texts will continue to be criminalized and labelled as acts of 'terrorists,' 'rebels,' 'separatists,' 'anti-nationals,' 'seditionists,' etc 3 (Ahmed 2019; Genocide Watch 2019), rather than those of Indigenous water and land 'defenders,' 'stewards,' and 'protectors.'

This paper is built upon decolonial interventions and accumulated knowledges by

Indigenous scholars globally on how to do research in Indigenous contexts. It should be treated as a starting point and introduction to Indigenous-centric research literature that invites policy scholars to reexamine their roles and positionalities in knowledge production. While this paper provides some contemporary examples of what happens when such practices are not followed, there are many more empirical cases that are beyond the scope of this paper. Before expanding on each of the eleven principles, I briefly present the history of the knowledge production tensions as a context to appreciate the significance of these principles.

The historical context of knowledge production tensions

Our current range of research epistemologies – positivism to post-modernisms, poststructuralisms – arise out of the social history and culture of the dominant race, these epistemologies reflect and reinforce that social history and that social group and this has negative results for the people of color in general and scholars of color in particular. - James Scheurich ( 1997, 141)

How do we understand hegemonic colonial and imperial knowledge production as a practice? Imperialism is understood to be primarily motivated by an interest in increas ing political power, economic expansion, and expansion of religious and ideological beliefs (Said 2003; Smith 1999). Imperialism functions through '[t]he domination of another land and people through economic and political control established by violent or coercive force' (Cannon and Sunseri 2011, 276). Direct control of territory or establishment of a 'colony' is not necessary by the imperial power, as is the case within the colonial context. Referring to the inherent goals of white racial domination in exerting such control, Cannon and Sunseri quote Edward Said (1994), who points out that '(n)either imperialism nor colonialism is a simple act of accumulation and acquisition. Both are supported and perhaps even impelled by impressive ideological formations that include notions that certain territories and people require and beseech domination' (Said, 1994, p. 9 in Cannon and Sunseri 2011, 276) [emphasis of the author].

Acclaimed Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith ( 1999, 2012) writes that from the fifteenth century onwards, European imperialism had multiple manifestations. It entailed economic expansion, subjugating 'Others' in many forms, including as a field of discursive knowledge production. In this context, while originally European domination through colonies was primarily for the purposes of extracting raw materials and bringing them back to the imperial center, the colonies also served the important function of becoming ports of 'imperial outreach.' Smith explains that knowledge production exists within a system of power, intended to control 'Others' as well as maintain their depenency on the imperial and colonial center(s) (Smith 2012, 226). It is within that system of power that she says, '[r]esearch is expected to lead to social transformation' and 'contribute to something greater than itself' (Smith 2012, 226; emphasis mine). However, instead of demonstrating the benefit of research to Indigenous peoples, what we see instead is that 'the [research] benefits never reach indigenous peoples' and that they 'are used as a ploy or tactic to coerce indigenous communities into sacrificing their cultural values, leaving their homes, giving up their languages and surrendering control over basic decision making in their own lives' (Smith 2012, 226), among a range of other harms.

Indigenous peoples and ally academics have been drawing attention to the problematic ways in which research on Indigenous, racialized and marginalized peoples has often been produced with conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentionally alienating colonial gaze and relationality. Furthermore, in policy studies, like many disciplines it is connected to, such research work is frequently conducted to advance the careers of non-native people, where extractive practices are used in the predominantly neo-liberal academy to further the capitalist, individualistic, accumulative approach to advance the careers of researchers. There is a problematic cycle here where: the primarily white, 4 positivist-dominated academy, which has a history of producing knowledges in an extractive manner from ambiguous relationality standpoints, seeks its consumption by the very marginalized communities it has extracted the knowledge from in problematic ways. Upon examining the consumptive dimension of these very knowledges – there is now a cost to it to get access and additional costs when the same communities' whose knowledges were extracted then seek accreditation in Eurocentric settler colonial institutions. Often, the appropriated knowledges are disconnected from the onto-epistemic historic place-based traditions of the community(ies) the knowledge(s) was(were) taken from (Smith 1999, 2012; Battiste and Henderson 2000; UNDRIP 2007; Dei et al. 2000; Simpson 2017). The vast majority of the post-colonial world inherited and continues participating in similar Eurocentric academic systems and institutional frameworks.

Academia and the normative world of scholarly knowledge production is built upon a capitalist cultural and institutional model of 'advancing' research in high volume, and at a fast pace. This system does not center people and the purpose of research and is instead structurally built on a value system of capital accumulation (an analytic concept developed by Rosa Luxemburg in 2003 originally). Within the academy, there exists a hierarchy of undergraduates to graduate students, and then junior faculty to senior faculty; to climb this ladder and to stay relevant/important, individuals are expected to demonstrate that they will continue to 'publish' or 'perish' (Kovach 2018). A culture of hyper-competition for the accumulation of enough accolades, especially the accumulation of published peer-reviewed works as capital enables climbing the ladder, getting tenure as job security, and staying 'relevant' or being 'valued.' The neo-liberal academy privileges individual advancement and capital accumulation rather than collective welfare and treats research output as an individual's intellectual property. Furthermore, uneven power dynamics make it challenging for junior scholars and graduate students to hold senior scholars accountable when their work is stolen. It can be particularly difficult for racialized or marginalized community members who have had to face intergenerational and intersectional barriers to enter academia, and subsequently, be able to stay (see Benita Bunjun's work in the settler-colonial-Canadian context).

Racial capitalism was proposed by Black scholar Cedric J. Robinson to explain how economic and social value is extracted from racialized people while discarding them in their full humanity (Quan 2019). Imperial and colonial hegemonic knowledge production practices often used the logic of racial capitalism in how knowledge generation about Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples is done. It is also deployed in the individually competitive advancement of scholars in Eurocentric, and imperial knowledge production institutions. Racially capitalist knowledge production practices dehumanize and objectify Indigenous peoples instead of engaging with them as sovereign nations. Through the use of racially capitalist methodological approaches, knowledges have been extracted instrumentally, (historically known to be taken without these peoples' free, informed consent, see Article 11.2 of UNDRIP 2007,) and subsequently used to control, generate misrepresentations, further marginalize, dispossess and displace Indigenous peoples, thereby enacting accumulation by Indigenous dispossession 5 and genocide.

Critical policy studies are located within a broader critical theory tradition. As a mode of inquiry, critical theory has questioned, challenged, and critically reflected on: assumptions, neutrality, objectivity, absolute and universal knowledge claims, deconstructed popular representations, discourses or grand narratives, and framings in analysis and generating conclusions (Bronner 2011). As part of the post-positivist and poststructuralist knowledge traditions, critical policy scholarship and analysis have challenged the objectivist neutrality and removal of value biases from research and knowledge produc tion practices (see engagements by critical policy scholars with the work of J. Habermas and M. Foucault in Buchstein 2009; Fischer et al. 2015; earlier policy scholarship such as that of Forester 1993; Yanow 1993; Gale 2001; Fischer 2003; Ball 2006 and more). While conventional positivist policy analysis approaches were complicit in the reproduction of existing unequal power relations in society by failing to account for historically unequal social relations between groups, i.e. group identities based on gender, race, class, and ability, comparatively, critical policy analysis oriented scholarship asked questions such as who is/isn't being heard, whose values are/are not being considered, who is recognized as knowledgeable/unknowledgeable, and whose perspectives/inputs are considered indispensable/dispensable to the policy questions at stake. Critical policy scholars took up the task of 'speaking truth to power.'

Critical race scholarship overlaps with some critical policy analysis oriented scholar-ship; this overlap has opened up space for asking questions about race-based discrimination as systemic, where institutional biases are embedded toward racialized peoples. Under critical-race oriented policy inquiry, race or 'color-blind' analyses have been challenged (Crenshaw 1988; Diem et al. 2014). Whereas in critical policy, intersectional feminist, and critical-race policy analysis, questions are raised about the differential outcomes and experiences faced by Black and Indigenous women under the settler colonial legal systems (notably in the United States and Canada), these approaches omit addressing the settler-colonial genocidal state structural presences on Indigenous territories, and the question of: on whose native land? I call this type of omission or silence in policy scholarship an anti-Indigenous genocidal native-place-invisiblization when addressing 'place-based' and 'place-specific' sovereign Indigenous research jurisdic- tions (SIRJ) in policy research.

All research work exists within systems of power and has a politic. From what research questions get asked, to how the research is conducted, and the ways researchers locate themselves in relation to the research topics - no research work is politically objective or neutral. The objective, 'universalist' standpoint research that has been color and race invisiblizing, class invisiblizing, gender invisiblizing, age invisiblizing, sexuality invisiblizing, religion invisiblizing, ableist and generally invisiblizing of systems of power and privilege, and treats research as neutral comes from a positivist and structuralist historical origins of policy research. The former research reproduces dominant norms and systems (just and unjust) by invisibilizing the intersecting axioms of power and privilege.

For example, some critical policy researchers visibilize gender in their anlaysis, however, they invisiblize race, thereby treating it as an irrelevant axiom of power and analysis.

Some critical race scholars visiblize race and gender, but not Indigeneity or the name of the traditional territory they are on, even while conducting research on and with Indigenous peoples while being located on Indigenous territories. They make this omision while they reside in, and benefit from a settler-colonial-states-structure built upon genocidal-Indigenous displacement and dispossession. Indigenous peoples' distinct place-based relationalities have been disrupted globally under different iterations of settler-colonial structures in an imperial world state-system, consisting of settler-colonial states such as Canada, United States, India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, and more. Former critical policy researchers are selective in choosing the axioms of power and privilege they factor-in as relevant to their research design, questions, processes, and findings.

Decolonizing policy research and critical policy research requires accounting for all relevant axioms of power and privilege in research, not one or some. A starting point should always be the researcher unpacking their own intersectional location/positionality (Crenshaw 1991, 2015; Collins 2015; Hankivsky and Cormier 2011), as well as accounting for temporalities of certain positions of power and privilege (i.e. change in class, ability, age) which are place, time and context specific.

Positivist policy studies scholarship, alongside critical policy studies, have rarely grappled with the violation of sovereign Indigenous research jurisdictions, erasure of sovereign Indigenous knowledge governing traditions, voices, presence, and onto-epis- temic approaches effecting Indigenous peoples in scholarship. The policy studies canon is complicit in the genocidal erasure of Indigenous peoples as a normative knowledge production practice. Decolonization of critical policy studies requires a recognition of sovereign Indigenous research jurisdictions and data/knowledge governance on their- own-unique-terms. The decolonizing knowledge movement has opened up liberatory, transformative, and radically restorative possibilities. It is within this movement for research justice that I propose IPRF, with the aim of restoring place-based knowledges and relationships, which requires a counter-hegemonic radical redistribution of power in research.

Indigenous Policy Research Framework (IPRF) principles

When drawing on an Indigenous Research Framework (Smith 1999; Kovach 2009; Lavallée 2009; Chilisa 2012), rather than reproducing dominant Eurocentric and positivist knowledge production approaches, it is important to center marginalized Indigenous and racialized voices, stories, ontologies, epistemologies, and knowledge traditions. Indigenous research onto-epistemic approaches and methodologies involve a place- based (Byrd 2011; Corntassel 2012) centering of relationships of responsibility, account- ability, and reciprocity in relation to the nations' whose lands the researcher is living on or researching about (Corntassel and Gaudry 2014). African Botswanan Bantu scholar Chilisa Bagele has emphasized that Indigenous peoples' knowledges are diverse, as well as nation/tribe and place-specific. They carry grounded knowledges about the natural world from time immemorial, as well as an affinity toward land-based stewardship practices across diverse Indigeneities. For example, in my native language of Kashmiri, we call the land mouj Kasheer, which in English translates to 'mother Kashmir.' In Kashmiri, people say the land feeds us, shelters us, and takes care of us. Kashmiri people regard themselves as the gardeners and stewards of mother earth, traditionally a deep relationship of reciprocity rather than a capitalist relationship of property that revolves around extraction. Referring to the land (consisting of non-human life relations) as a mother in relation, as opposed to the European Hobbesian relationship of private property possessive, is the case for many Indigenous nations globally, such as the Inuit, Cree, and many more. Imperial and colonial policies and relationships of domination have disrupted the relationships between Indigenous peoples, intergenerationally, with their traditional territories, cultures, languages, foods, customs, human and non-human life relations, knowledge production as well as preservation practices globally. Indigenous peoples carry different iterations of similar relationships with their ancestral lands from time immemorial, and carry deep wounds that have resulted from facing displacement and dispossession due to the impacts of colonial and imperial policy violences.

Dei and Sherry Jaimungal ( 2018, 2) write that 'Indigenous knowledge systems stress relationality, connections, reciprocity, community building, appreciation, sharing, humility, social responsibility, and generosity as a key or essential components facilitating the "coming to know"(see also Battiste and Youngblood Henderson 2009; Cajete, 1994, 2000; Chilisa, 2011; Gumbo, 2016, 2017; Mpofu, Otulaja, & Mushayikwa, 2014; Odora Hoppers, 2001, 2002; Smith 1999; Wilson, 2001)' [emphasis mine]. The IPRF principles and questions presented below will help steward along the processes of decolonizing policy research.

Locating self – outsider/insider

Unless the policy research on Indigenous peoples is being led by the Indigenous nation or by tribal members themselves, it has a great likelihood of producing unreliable, colonial and/or imperial knowledge pertaining to Indigenous peoples (Smith 1999; Said 2003; Kovach 2018). An outsider's gaze on a native people is limited in its capacity to interpret and do justice to situate/place the knowledge in its correct context. As a starting point, all researchers must locate their positionality as an insider or outsider in relation to the group they want to do knowledge generation with or about. Some questions that they must ask, introspect and be willing to answer include: Am I the researcher from within the group? Am I the researcher from outside the group? An important first step is to identify yourself as an insider or outsider, critical self-reflexively, in relation to the Indigenous nation/tribe you want to research with/about (Smith 1999, 2012, 138; Wilson 2008; Kovach 2009). While Indigenous research methodologies require researchers to be willing to answer this question, as an aspect of accountability, conducting such research and thereby acknowl- edging your location is just one part of the importance of recognizing positionality.

Settler colonial states have particular relational patterns of developing membership rules with the 'logic of elimination,' a system of destroying the natives and replacing Indigenous life forms (Wolfe 2006). Indigenous scholars have long critiqued non-natives' self-indigenizing and playing native 6; the former is just another genocidal iteration of eliminating the native. The criteria determining a researcher's membership in Indigenous nations cannot be based on rules set out by colonial authorities; such has historically been the case in the context of the settler colonial state of Canada through the racist doctrines found within the Indian Act 7 or through the naturalization policies imposed by the settler-colonial government of India on Kashmir through the Domicile law. 8 While critical and interpretive policy studies research has been open to transformative, constructivist knowledge generation within the interpretive research studies scope, it too has been engaged in producing non-native gaze/researchers' based knowledges on native as 'subjects' or 'objects.'

It is imperative for the researcher to explicitly name and visibilize their positionality to the community, and in written works relating to the research; otherwise, the research benefits from and perpetuates an ambiguous relationality (described earlier in the paper). Once the researcher identifies and visibilizes their positionality, the next step is to identify the unique set of responsibilities you have as an insider or outsider. Researchers who are located as an insider or members of the nation they are researching with/about are obligated to honor and follow the traditional knowledge governance protocols of the nation they are a member of, which includes getting the community and other relevant customary governing authorities' consent to conduct the research (MDCIPRIP 1993; UNDRIP 2007; Smith 2012; TCPS2 2018). The positionality of an insider does not in itself prevent the possibility of colonial knowledge production. If the 'insider' researcher does not actively educate themselves, engage and honor the tribe/nation's traditional practices in doing knowledge production in deeply meaningful ways, and instead chooses to follow Eurocentric or other research practices that do not govern knowledge production traditionally for the community. Such research can still put a colonial and imperial gaze on the nation/tribe being written about, and thereby contribute to knowledge production that recolonizes.

On the other hand, if the researcher is located as an outsider to the nation/tribe being researched with/about, it is necessary to engage the research with the following set of criteria in mind. The researcher must be able to demonstrate a positive response to the following questions: Do you have permission from the traditional/customary governing authority and protocols of this nation/tribe to conduct such research? Do the researcher's research questions and interests align with the expressed needs and desires of this Indigenous nation/Tribal people? How will the researcher ensure the research is led, approved, and reviewed by the Indigenous community from the start to finish? Are there conflicts of interest that the researcher may have in being able to conduct this work ethically, and has there been adequate transparency in disclosing the researcher's interest and ties that might be oppositional to the needs (i.e. safety) and priorities of the community?

As an example, there may be incidences where the researcher who is interested in doing work to support the Indigenous community might have an immediate family working for the settler-colonial state that is directly involved in violating Indigenous peoples' rights and freedoms. Researchers who have family members directly working for settler colonial state surveillance, intelligence, policing bodies or resource-extracting corporations that work to dismantle resistance to land theft must be transparent about such linkages in relationship building at all stages with the community. In a recent case, Indian researcher/scholar Saiba Varma was critiqued for studying Indigenous Kashmiri patients getting mental health treatment in medical clinics while publicly concealing that her father, whom she was close to and positively acknowledged in the book on the subject, was working for Indian settler-colonial state intelligence, which directly surveilled and sabotaged the Indigenous Kashmiri peoples movement for freedom and self-determination. 9 This was problematic because many members of the Kashmiri community were shocked that she had been involved in studying a sensitive area without being transparent about her positionality in relation to the subject, and when publicly asked about it, Varma misrepresented herself by withholding information about her close familial relationships and did not offer proper ownership or apology for the misconduct. This put the integrity of Varma's scholarship into question and harmed the trust between the community and 'outsider' researchers. This incident also highlights that perhaps Varma was aware that she either would have had to spend a longer time building a trusting relationship, or would never have received consent or the trust of the commu- nity, had she been publicly transparent about her positionality when conducting this research. Researchers who are genuinely interested in doing good research with Indigenous peoples have to accept that regardless of their intentions, they have to earn the trust of the community with transparency, and if consent is still not given, they accept the 'no', and not pursue that particular research.

Relationship building

Relationships are how we do Indigenous epistemology - Margaret Kovach – Cree, Saulteaux scholar ( 2018, 218)

The questions presented in the first IPRF principle invite an outside researcher to consider the priorities and interests of the Indigenous nation/tribe, whether they have appropriate permissions, as well as an adequate/appropriate relationship with the Indigenous nation/tribe to carry out the research in accordance with their priorities.

The first principle requires that the researcher has had some level of engagement with the community, and has a relationship with them, where the community members have been actively involved in telling the researcher their needs and priorities. Such research requires the existence of building relationships that are mutually beneficial, and reciprocal (Smith 1999; Kovach 2009; Chilisa 2012; Corntassel and Gaudry 2014; TCPS2 2018) and require a degree of trust which takes time to build through ongoing practices of accountability. Having been in relationships with Indigenous nations and tribes, while being an Indigenous Kashmiri woman myself, I can tell you that it is important not to force relationships or research that the community does not want, irrespective of how significantly you think it will benefit the community. The researcher must de-center themselves in such relationships and respect that it is not the researcher who can decide which research is of priority or value to the specific nation. How this process does or does not unfold will vary from nation to nation and depends on the historical as well as the issues the communities are dealing with at that time. While not all Indigenous nations and tribal peoples have formal guidelines they have created to outline how to negotiate the right research relationships, the Inuit peoples' guidelines (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Research Institute 2007, 12–16) are a helpful example and a critically important starting point for researchers to read, learn, unlearn, and then consider what they need to do in their own respective local context. Their guidelines identify the most problematic aspects of research:

lack of community input/consultation in identifying research needs, and questions, and in designing studies

lack of local community involvement in the research process

token or cursory inclusion of local expertise in research

lack of recognition or compensation

generalization/decontextualization of local knowledge

appropriation of expertise and knowledge

inappropriate research methodologies

short, typically summer, field sessions

lack of locally relevant or beneficial research

lack of funding for locally initiated projects

lack of local data ownership

inadequate reporting by researchers

Shedding light on alternatives to the above problematic approaches, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Research Institute ( 2007) has identified elements of good research relationships. They note that some key principles that help build good relationships when conducting research with the community include being:



informed about new and preexisting knowledge/research

be open to questions from the community and willing to engage with the feedback they have

be patient in getting to know the community and understand the community has other priorities as well

express a willingness to learn from the community in a reciprocal research and learning relationship

educate locally by doing skills training, development and workshops

hire/purchase locally

maintain ongoing communication during your time inside/outside the community

respect local cultures, customs and protocols

try new things, engage in community life actively

use local language by hiring interpreters for interviews, meetings, or public speaking events and make an effort to learn the local language

use informed consent as a process when doing field research

establish local contacts and relationships,

respect local customs and authority

give credit, recognition and attribution to community members whose knowledge is shared; it can also mean co-authorship in journals and other publications

negotiate data control both during and after completion of the study, conflict resolution contingency plans in case of conflict, and appropriate customary or financial compensation for participants or those who have assisted

determine community engagement/involvement during three distinct stages of the research project, including design, data collection and analysis

Unangax 10 scholar Tuck ( 2009) underscores the need for Indigenous and Tribal peoples to develop explicit ethical guidelines and criteria of their own. Some Indigenous nations are choosing to transfer existing ethical guidelines or knowledge governance protocols from oral knowledges to written formats, while some practices have been kept oral intentionally. Such processes remain impacted by the genocidal colonial and imperial harms that continue to impact Indigenous communities by limiting their capacities. During my dissertation fieldwork under the supervision of Anishinaabe scholar Dr. Damien Lee, I conducted interview-based research with Indigenous community members. During this process, I learnt that getting customary authority consent can be a barrier to participation for Indigenous community members who are facing layered, interlocking, ongoing systemic oppressions. 11 Dr. Damien Lee has been familiar with the limitations posed when getting customary authority approval in rare circumstances from earlier works; we are in the process of unpacking what this means for the future of such cases.

With the rise of research being conducted where engagement of participants or data collection happens through phone calls, online-virtual/video interviews, particularly in the post-COVID-19 pandemic world, it is still important for researchers to prioritize and choose research in relation with Indigenous nations or Tribes where you can be locally in close contact, where you can visit in-person as well as build/maintain long-term relation-hips of trust, reciprocity, and accountability. Relationships with Indigenous and Tribal peoples cannot just be built online. Conversely, relationships that are one-time, transactional, short-term and tokenistic can be indicative of extractive, exploitative research, where resources (i.e. time) of the specific nation(s) are strained unfairly.

In order to keep researchers accountable, all stages of research need to be a collaborative process and a long-term partnership (to the extent that the community desires on a case-by-case basis) with the community (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) 2007; Wilson 2008; Kovach 2009; Corntassel and Gaudry 2014.) Through my own experiences, I have learnt that researchers must respect the available capacity of the community members to set the pace of the research work, rather than move at a speed that the researcher unilaterally determines as appropriate for the work. Ignoring this can create unfair pressure on community members and generate harm instead of producing good work.

Identify why the work is being done and why you are doing this research? Does the community desire it? Who benefits? Does the community benefit?

Within the context of normative research practices across settler-colonial states and beyond, settler researchers and dominant positivist research practices have normalized the benefits associated with extractivist research practices. Instead of having relations of reciprocity and accountability where researchers develop research questions and studies that Indigenous communities benefit from, researchers render what Indigenous nation/ Tribal peoples want from research done in/with the community as secondary or irrelvant. Positivist and post-positivist research practices can be positioned/located within historically developed world state systems, which renders the settler colonial structural elimination of the natives (Wolfe 2006) as normal.

All researchers interested in doing research with/for Indigenous nations/tribes must critical self-reflexively examine what motivated them to do this work. Who benefits from doing the research? Is this research desired by the community (Tuck 2009; Gingrich-Philbrook 2005)? Who has defined the benefits of doing this research, the researcher(s) or the community? Are research 'benefits' defined by the community and the researcher the same way? In other words, are the benefits identified by the researcher in doing the study the same as those identified by the community's definition of research benefits? Is it meant to serve their own interests rather than those of the Indigenous nation/tribe they are looking to research with/for? What are the interests of the community? How does the researcher know? And most importantly, would the community benefit from this research? If yes, how so?

The reproduction of research that centers an outsider researchers' priorities, agendas and interests only reproduces normative genocidal systems of power and hegemony in research about Indigenous peoples. To do research that undoes that colonial and imperial hegemony in knowledge production requires that the researcher de-center their own interests, the ways in which they benefit, and instead engage in counter-hegemonic research practices that center the priorities of the nation/tribe they are looking to research about/with. Quoting Shuswap leader George Manuel, Cherokee scholar Jeff Corntassel and Métis scholar Adam Gaudry eloquently illustrate what this means ( 2014, 176)

According to Shuswap leader George Manuel (1976), 'we will steer our own canoe, but we will invite others to help with the paddling' (p. 12). It follows that if one is invited to help with the paddling, then that person's research priorities must be directly relevant and centered on the needs of local Indigenous communities.

Desire-centric research requires that researchers engage with the community and understand what they want in meaningful ways (Tuck 2009; Gingrich-Philbrook 2005). Several guides developed by Indigenous peoples describe how to do this. Another resource that describes a range of meaningful ways to engage Indigenous communities is Chapter 9 of the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2 2018).

Engage, read and cite Indigenous knowledge holders and scholars

Similar to disciplinary fields such as anthropology (deLoria 1969), policy studies research has been complicit in the erasure of Indigenous presence in the literature under imperial and colonial knowledge production practices. This has manifested through the citation of non-native knowledges and voices primarily/exclusively about Indigenous and tribal peoples lived experiences, land relations, stories, history, priorities, and other realms of existence is a form of onto-epistemic erasure.

Challenging historical practices of erasure using the IPRF requires recognizing and centering Indigenous knowledge holders and tribal peoples' own time-immemorial generated knowledges about themselves and discontinuing the domination of nonnatives as originators of the knowledges about Indigenous peoples. This also means not exclusively centering some prominent ones while leaving out emerging or less 'known' voices. Additionally, practices of respect and responsibility toward the Indigenous nation/tribe the researcher is doing research with also demands that they engage with and honor the Indigenous/Tribal peoples' specific processes, systems of research, knowledge production and preservation (Kovach 2009).

Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Simpson ( 2017) eloquently draws attention to how her particular place-based onto-epistemic methodological practices of engaging Nishnaabeg life-world exists outside the realm of conscientization by those who are non-native to Nishnaabeg kwe world. She writes (2017, 29–30)

My life as a kwe within Nishnaabewin is method because my people have always generated knowledge through the combination of emotion and intellectual knowledge within the kinetics of our placed-based practices, as mitigated through our bodies, minds, and spirits. In fact, within Nishnaabewin, I am fully responsible for generating meaning about my life through the way I think and live. This internal work is a necessary and vital part of living responsibly and ethically within our grounded normativity. It is my sovereignty. Within this larger process, on the land I've engaged in Nishnaabeg practices of hunting, fishing, harvest-ng rice and medicines, ceremony, language learning, singing, dancing, making maple syrup, parenting, and storytelling, and I've spent over a decade learning from elder Doug Williams. I've paid great attention to my thoughts, emotions, and experiences as a kwe living at this particular point in time, and I've used this to critique settler colonialism and to generate thoughts on radical resurgent responses.6 I have not reacted to these emotional responses uncritically but explored and processed them through ceremony, discussions, artistic prac- tice, and therapeutic contexts and with elders. This is an act of resurgence itself: centering Nishnaabeg intellect and thought through the embodiment of Nishnaabeg practices, and using the theory and knowledge generated to critique my current reality.

It is not just individual knowledge rooted in my own perspectives and experiences with the abusive power of colonialism, because it is theoretically anchored to and generated through Nishnaabeg intelligence and because it takes place entirely within grounded normativity – perhaps a strangulated grounded normativity but grounded normativity nevertheless. In an entirely Nishnaabeg intellectual context, I wouldn't have to explain this at all. This would be understood because it is how our knowledge system has always worked [emphasis mine].

If we simply relied upon non-Nishnaabeg sources instead of Simpson's own articula- tions of Nishnaabeg meaning-making through Nishnaabeg theory and knowledge, we could not wholly understand or appreciate the grounded-normativity-oriented conscien- tizations and connections within her life-world. If non-native sources and onto-epis- temes were centered, we would see the ongoing (re-)production of colonial erasures, representations, and relationalities. We would additionally see knowledge gaps, where we would be limited in our ability to do reliable policy research and analyses.

Sovereign Indigenous research jurisdictional (SIRJ) rights

Policy researchers have to ask themselves, how does the research study respect the self-representational, self-governance and self-determination rights of the Indigenous peo- ples they want to do research with? Does the community own and/or control the data? Does the research honor the free-prior-informed-consent principles in undertaking the study?

Applying IPRF means policy researchers use research designs that respect the sovereign Indigenous research jurisdiction (SIRJ) of Indigenous peoples on research about them. SIRJ broadly refers to the idea that Indigenous peoples have the right to self-government, self-representation and self-determination when it comes to research on/ about them. Policy researchers using an IPRF must be willing to recognize and respect the sovereign jurisdictional rights Indigenous peoples hold over their data, information and knowledge production about them, that they give free-prior-informed-consent at all stages of research for research to progress with integrity. They must deliberately factor the former in their research design from the conceptualization of the study, to what research questions get asked, how data is collected, how it is analyzed, to how the findings are reported, represented, as well as distributed. While IPRF requires this, ostensibly, dominant positivist research engages through a problematic objectivist gaze devoid of the engagement with the reality that research ought to relationally respect SIRJ and the authority of Indigenous peoples in knowledge production about them. Critical policy research has also reproduced approaches that do not grapple with sovereign jurisdictions of Indigenous peoples.

I present two Indigenist research value systems, what are known as OCAP and FAIR, which outline principles that govern Indigenous research in a number of Indigenous contexts.

Whereas the dominant knowledge production canon in policy studies takes objectivist, extractivist approaches to knowledge production in relation to Indigenous peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) affirms that a different approach must be taken. Developed over decades under the leadership of Indigenous peoples' expertise, UNDRIP was ratified and adopted by the vast majority of countries globally and came into effect in 2007/6. Article 31 of UNDRIP affirms and emphasizes Indigenous peoples' rights when it comes to the maintenance, control and protection of their knowledges. It states that Indigenous peoples'

right[s] to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medi- cines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts [must be protected]. (emphasis mine)

Article 31 of UNDRIP emphasizes Indigenous peoples' 'right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions', and underscores that 'States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights' while working with Indigenous peoples (UNDRIP 2007, 11).

Respecting and honoring the sovereign research jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples requires learning about as well as applying the OCAP principles. OCAP refers to ownership, control, access, and possession/protection (Corntassel and Gaudry 2014, 169–173; TCPS2 2018; FNIGC nd) of the First Nations' information, data and cultural knowledges collectively. It was developed in partnership between Indigenous nations known as 'First Nations' across northern Turtle Island, in the geographic space otherwise referred to as the settler-colonial state of Canada. OCAP clarifies the relationship between First Nations' knowledges and their rights. It was developed to protect and prevent First Nations people from having their knowledges exploited (FNIGC 2014; Kovach 2009) by outsiders for personal profit (i.e. career advancement by academics, private sector and settler colonial governance institutions advancing further dispossession of native people). Under OCAP, the ownership principle emphasizes that all data, information and cultural knowledges are collectively owned by First Nations as communities or groups. The control principle signifies that the First Nations communities and their representative bodies have the right to control 'all aspects of research and information management processes that impact them' from 'start to finish' of research projects (FNIGC nd). This control principle applies to control over resources, planning and review processes, information management systems (and more). The access principle underscores the requirement of First Nations organizations and communities having 'access to informa- tion and data about themselves, their communities,' irrespective of where it is held (FNIGC nd). The possession principle refers to the clear expectation that there is material control of data and information, and that this 'ownership can be asserted and protected' (FNIGC nd). The OCAP principles can be understood as an act of asserting Indigenous

self-determination and self-government by respecting SIRJ of Indigenous peoples.

Another set of criteria called the CARE principles have emerged for Indigenous Data Governance to address Indigenous peoples' rights in research globally. CARE refers to Collective benefit, Authority, Responsibility, and Ethics (Carroll et al. 2020). The collective benefit principle emphasizes supporting '(1) Indigenous nation and community use and reuse of data; (2) use of data for policy decisions and evaluation of services; and (3) creation and use of data that reflect community values' (Carroll et al. 2020, 6). The authority to control principles refers to control of data, where Indigenous Peoples have 'access to data that support Indigenous governance and self-determination,' and further- more, 'Indigenous Peoples must be the ones to determine data governance protocols, while being actively involved in stewardship decisions for Indigenous data that are held by other entities' (Carroll et al. 2020, 6). The principle of responsibility underscores the requirement of nurturing 'respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples from whom the data originate', this includes, 'investing in capacity development, increasing community data capabilities, and embedding data within Indigenous languages and cultures', thereby "fulfill[ing] the ultimate responsibility of supporting Indigenous data that advances Indigenous Peoples' self-determination and collective benefit" (Carroll et al. 2020, 6). Finally, the principle of ethics requires researchers to focus on 'data ecosystems' and 'data lifecycles in order to minimize harm, maximize benefits, promote justice, and allow for future use', where 'data practices is representation and participation of Indigenous Peoples, who must be the ones to assess benefits, harms, and potential future uses based on community values and ethics' (Carroll et al. 2020, 6).

Long term relationships rather than parachuting

In a conversation I had with Anishinaabe scholar Dr. Damien Lee (2020), I learnt that it is not enough to just have a relationship with the Indigenous community a scholar wants to do research on/with. The length of time the community and the researcher have had a relationship is an important determinant in how well the community knows the researcher; it influences the type of relationship the community has with a researcher. The type of relationship the community and researcher have, determines the research questions the community will allow to be researched. Native and non-native researchers who intend to follow an IPRF need to respect that research is a relational practice that requires them to honor long-term, 'life-long' practices of reciprocity, accountability and responsibility with Indigenous peoples they conduct such work with (Wilson 2008; Kovach 2009; Lavallée 2009, Chilisa 2012). In another conversation, Dr. Damien Lee noted that contrary to fast-paced-publication demands by universities, undertaking Indigenous-centric relational-research approaches can result in a lot fewer publications (2022). This makes sense, as Indigenous-centric methods require prioritizing the com- munity's desires, needs, interests (Tuck 2009; Gingrich-Philbrook 2005) and non-extractive relational research practices.

Whereas an IPRF requires honoring the former practices, comparatively, positivist and some post-positivist critical policy researchers observe a different process, where researchers are likely to parachute in and out of communities. Outsider researchers parachuting in and out of the community are detrimental to the community in multiple ways. For instance, parachuting harms by unfairly taxing the limited Indigenous community capacity and time to get to know and vet new individuals seeking to engage with the community. Researchers who parachute frequently build tokenistic and transactional relationships rather than a long-term relational practice of reciprocity, trust and accountability. The one nuance to keep in mind here is that if a community does not want to maintain a relationship with a researcher, and does not respond to their requests, the researcher must recognize they need to step back. The researcher must respect that the community is saying 'no' to extending that relationship any further.

Building relations that honor Indigenous and Tribal protocols

Opaskwayak Cree research methodologist and scholar Shawn Wilson ( 2008) writes that research is a ceremony. Given the way knowledge production practices are ceremonially sacred in Wilson's Cree tradition and many others, researchers ought to learn the native- place-specific protocols.

It is necessary to honor place-specific sovereign jurisdictional values and protocols which govern knowledge production for Indigenous peoples (Wilson 2008; Corntassel and Gaudry 2014; Kovach 2009, 2018, 224; FNIGC nd);as an extension of respect,policy researchers must be willing to answer how their research work does so. 12 For example, passed on through oral knowledge sharing by Micah Miller, a traditional Firekeeper who is Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River, I learnt that when you go to an Anishnaabe, Haudenosaunee, Ojibway, Mi'kmaw or Cree Elder with a request, you have to bring tobacco (tied in a distinct way) with you. If the Elder accepts the tobacco, it means they have agreed to help you with your request. Another example is from the Kashmiri people. It is a traditional protocol that Kashmiris never go to anyone's home empty-handed. It is known in the Kashmiri communities that when you share space, you conduct yourself with the spirit of reciprocity, that you bring/give/share something when you are about to (part-) take something. You share the responsibility of living together rather than placing the complete burden on the host. For example, the gifts my family took in Kashmir to friends' or relatives' homes were bakery, dry fruits, or fruits. This practice continues.

Learning the traditional protocols of Indigenous communities and honoring them are practices of restorative research justice.

8. Collaborative partnerships

It's necessary for policy researchers using an IPRF approach to ask themselves, whose research is it? Who is leading the work, and why? Research with Indigenous peoples, particularly by non-natives, requires that researchers pay attention to the role researchers assign to Indigenous and Tribal peoples. An IPRF requires that instead of the policy researcher taking the lead as the principal investigator, the policy researcher instead engages with the particular Indigenous community as equal research partners/collaborators, or take their lead. Input on how the research study is conceptualized, designed, what questions are asked, what methods are selected, how the data is analyzed, and how findings are presented and disseminated ought to be determined collaboratively between the researcher and the community (ITK & NRI 2007; Kovach 2009; Smith 2009; Corntassel and Gaudry 2014; Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2) 2018).

9. Practicing proper knowledge attribution

One of the aspects of being a responsible relation when doing research with Indigenous peoples is being cognizant of the legacy of theft and appropriation of Indigenous and Tribal knowledges and data for the use or consumption of others without attribution. This is imperative that Indigenous peoples be given credit and cited when researchers learn from the community or community members. For example, if someone in the community teaches you a new protocol, learn the protocol but also be prepared to recognize who you learnt it from as a way of correctly attributing oral knowledge to the source. In giving credit/recognition in the oral, or the written form, i.e. publication, be willing to share the text with the person/community and provide them with an opportunity to correct, accept, and/or decline your understanding and representation of what they taught you before it is shared with others or published.

10. Critical-self reflexivity

As a researcher, how do you engage with being critically self-reflexive about your positionality, power and privileges during the research from start to finish, as well as after you finish the research study? In doing this work, it is important to remain critically self-reflexive and responsive to the challenges that come up during the research process on an ongoing basis, even once the research is stored in a publication (Kovach 2009; Lavallée 2009; Chilisa 2012) (i.e. for example, researchers must protect the identity of research participants who want to remain confidential and be careful not to reveal their identities). It is necessary to stay critically self-reflexive as it helps the researcher hold themselves accountable, rather than having others hold the researcher accountable for their responsibilities during and after the research process.

11. Research as a practice of counter-hegemony (disrupting the status quo)

An IPRF approach does not advocate for a singular, hegemonic, pan-Indigenous approach but instead asks that researchers pay attention to methods that are built through Indigenous place-based values and grounded relationships. Applying an IPRF approach requires seeing research justice as significant beyond just the 'ethics review' stage of the research study, but from the very inception of the project. An IPRF requires researchers to be able to conceptualize their policy research work as a practice of counter- hegemony and be able to answer how they do so. For example, is the research(er) native-place-conscious? Do they understand the importance of 'grounded normativity' (Coulthard and Simpson 2016) while being native-place-conscious? Does the researcher name and visibilize their positionality in relationship to the native land and people they are researching with? Does the researcher consider what place-based relational respon- sibilities, rights, and accountability processes they must respect in undertaking the research? How has the researcher considered the historical power relations of 'domination' in doing knowledge production at the various stages of the research process? Is there radical redistribution of power in the research process? For example, what are the ways the researcher gives up power/control to give the Indigenous community more power/ control? Does the researcher have free-prior-informed-ongoing-consent from the community? If not, did the researcher let go of the work? These are some questions policy researchers must consider when using an IPRF approach, in addition to the questions asked under the ten earlier principles noted earlier in the paper.


'Research' has earned the reputation of being a 'dirty word' and work among Indigenous and Tribal peoples due to the history of problematic ways knowledge production has been carried out. Researchers are often seen with a gaze of distrust, they are believed to be carrying the motive of coming into native communities with extractivist agendas, and the likelihood of continuing colonial rationalities. This paper presents IPRF as a transformative and restorative alternative to harmful hegemonic knowledge production practices effecting Indigenous people that have prevailed in policy studies research. In this paper, I identify the colonial and imperial power relations of hegemony in methodological approaches to knowledge production within policy studies as the wicked policy problem, where researchers practice anti-Indigenous genocidal native-place-invisibilization. Decolonization, as a solution to this problem, looks like counter-hegemonic radical redistribution of power back to the community when conducting Indigenous policy research. In order to decolonize policy research and analysis, it is necessary to adopt an approach of counter-hegemony that shifts and undoes historical power relations of domination between policy studies and Indigenous peoples. In practice, this looks like research- ers being native place conscious with a 'grounded normativity' orientation and adopting the IPRF approach. The guiding principles, which I outline in this paper, emerged from a literature review methodology and application of an Indigenous research framework to the research design of my dissertation during my doctoral studies. While the IPRF approach has been proposed for policy studies research in this paper, the concepts and questions presented here are applicable and pertinent to a wider range of disciplines and research areas, i.e. education, law, communication, journalism, environmental, digital, health, technology and more broadly, to humanities, social, and scientific research.


This paper was presented in Tiohtié:ke on June 26, 2019 at the IPPA conference (Ahmed 2019, Ahmed 2019); Tiohtié:ke, the place we met is also known as Montreal, the traditional territories of the Kanien'kehá:ka people. Tiohtié:ke has been known to be a meeting place and a place of exchange for many Indigenous nations, such as the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Huron/Wendat, Abenaki, and Anishinaabeg peoples.

An Indigenist use of the word native refers to the original people, or Indigenous peoples of the land. My use of the language native and Indigenous refers to peoples who are under this category globally. The preference for using languages identified by Indigenous peoples in particular contexts when referring to them is also correct, i.e. First Nations, Metis and Inuit. I use the former vocabulary in this paper in a nuanced way, reflecting the specificities where appropriate, while also being mindful of the global context.

For example, academics, analysts, and journalists continue to disregard the use of an Indigenous rights framework when addressing issues effecting Indigenous Kashmiri peoples in the issue's framing and analysis. See the 'Call the Crime in Kashmir by its name: Ongoing Genocide' by Binish Ahmed ( 2019) in The Conversation. < the-crime-in-kashmir-by-its-name-ongoing-genocide-120412>; also presented as a paper called 'Asian and Indigenous: Re-Possession and Refusals of a Kashmir Womxn' by Binish Ahmed as a Peer-reviewed conference paper presentation at Critical Insurrections: Decolonizing Difficulties, Activist Imaginaries, and Collective Possibilities conference on June 24th, 2018, University of British Columbia. OR see the Genocide Alert for Kashmir by Genocide Watch ( 2019) < cide-alert-for-kashmir-india>;. I contacted Genocide Watch in the aftermath of the Siege on Kashmir on Aug. 5, 2019; I worked on this alert with Dr. Gregory Stanton, providing research materials and analytical support.

Here, white is not just a reference to white people. Whereas the racial category of white refers to white people, I am additionally referring to white-supremacist Eurocentrism (as discussed by Shohat & Stam 1994). Ella Shohat and Robert Stam define Eurocentrism as "the view which sees Europe as the World's center of gravity, as ontological 'reality' to which all good things flow. (. . . use 'Europe' not to refer to Europe as a political or geographical unit per se but rather to refer to the neo-European hegemony around much of the world, for example in the Americas). The residues of centuries of Euro-colonial domination have seeped into the everyday language, and media discourses, engendering a fictitious sense of the axiomatic superiority and universality of Western culture. Eurocentric discourse projects a linear ('Plato-to NATO') historical trajectory leading from classical Greece (constructed as 'pure,' 'western,' and 'democratic') to imperial Rome and then to the metropolitan capitals of Europe and the U.S. Eurocentric discourse is diffusionist, it assumes that democracy, science, progress all emanate outwards from the original source which is Europe and Europeans. Eurocentric discourse embeds, takes for granted, and 'normalizes,' in a kind of buried epistemology, the hierarchal power relations generated by colonialism and imperial- ism. [emphasis mine]" White-supremacist Eurocentrism and universalism have maintained patterns of power relations colonial and imperial hierarchy and domination through the post-Westphalian imperial and colonial-nation-state world-system in relation to Indigenous peoples globally. Under this world system, Black, Asian, Oceanic, Indigenous, racialized and marginalized peoples experience ongoing imperial violences and erasures. Within that global system, white and light-skinned-presenting people carry white/light-skin privilege (McIntosh 1988); those who perform whiteness, i.e. as Eurocentrism, also acquire privileges afforded through white supremacy.

'accumulation by dispossession' was originally proposed by Marxist scholar David Harvey, where he used the concept to explain neoliberal economic changes changes such as financialization, privatization and commodification, etc, 1970s onwards in so called 'Western' nations. My usage of the term is different. I propose 'accumulation by Indigenous dispossession' in reference to genocidal extraction, dispossession and displacements faced by Indigenous and Tribal peoples globally under the imperial white- supremacist post-Westphalian settler-colonial-nation-state world system.

For example, see Darryl Leroux's book Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, University of Manitoba Press, 2019. Also, see the public conversation on 'Pretendians' in the Turtle Island context (colonial known as North America) as a particu- larly good example; a large number of European academics, journalists, and artists have been exposed as pretending to be native. See Anishnaabe author Drew Hayden Taylor's investigative documentary 'The Pretendians,' produced by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) ( 2022) <>

One iteration of the racist control of membership of Indigenous people has been through Canada's Indian Act, where 'status cards' were issued and imposed by 'Band councils' that are entities of the Canadian governance system, rather than traditional governing bodies of the Indigenous nations/tribes. Indigenous women who married a non-Indigenous spouse lost their status and access to provisions outlined and guaranteed through the Indian Act and treaties, even though many Indigenous nations/tribes had different membership rules for their nations/tribes. For example, the Haudenosaunee nations follow a matrilineal system of membership.

In the aftermath of the creation of the Indian state in 1947, Article 370, Sec 35 of the Indian constitution protected Kashmiri peoples' rights to determine membership to Kashmir, and protections to purchase or transfer of land title under their own laws and protocols (among other rights); it was meant to be a short-term treaty agreement between the Kashmiri people and the settler-colonial Indian state that regulated their relationship - until there was a UN-mandated referendum on Kashmiri peoples political future. On August 5, 2019, the BJP government of India dissolved Article 370, Sec 35 of the constitution through a parliamentary vote. After striking the former, the settler-colonial state of India enacted direct colonial rule and implemented a series of new laws, including a policy called the Domicile Certificate. Under this policy, non-natives/non-Indigenous people from mainland India were naturalized as 'Kashmiris' and gained access to purchase and transfer Kashmiri land that they previously did not have permission to own as 'property' under Kashmiri laws and protocols. The legality of how Article 370/Sec35 were dissolved is still being contested within India's legal system, however the petitioners contesting India's unilateral move to dissolve a legal relationship with Kashmir have cited concerns around India's corrupt legal system.

More about surveillance and genocidal social colonial order in Kashmir can be read in Ahmed 2020, Ahmed 2019, and Genocide Watch 2019.

Unangax from the Pribilof Islands of the Aleutian chain in Alaska.

If you are interested in learning more, please follow Dr. Damien Lee's and my future work. My dissertation (forthcoming) will expand on this. You can keep in touch by writing to me at

See principle number two on relationship building.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

*Notes on contributor

Binish Ahmed (she/her) is an Asian Indigenous Kashmiri cis-woman, who works as an educator, multi-media artist, writer, and community connector/organizer. Born in Srinagar, Kashmir, she currently lives and works in the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Covenant territory. She is completing a PhD (ABD) in Policy Studies at the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), holds a Masters in Public Policy from Brock University, and an Honors Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, with a Political Science major, History and South Asian Studies double minors. Her academic and organizing work focuses on social movements at the intersections of racialization, migration, gender, labour, and solidarity with Indigenous movements for self- determination and resurgence. 'The Alchemy of Making Soft Landings on Sharp Places' is her first book, a collection of poetry/stories and art, released in Spring 2021. Her written works can also be read in the ROOM Magazine, UppingTheAnti, Conversation Canada, Amnesty International, Feral Feminisms Journal, Indigenous Policy Journal, and Rabble. E-mail, Twitter @BinishAhmed, or Instagram @BinishAhmedArt. This paper was originally presented at IPPA in June 2019. It was submitted to the Critical Policy Studies Journal (CPSJ) in December 2021 for peer-review. It is part of a special issue Binish is guest editing on Decolonizing Critical/Policy Studies for the CPSJ. This work has been in motion for Binish since Fall 2018, however has been delayed in the publishing process due to the impacts of the Siege on Kashmir - August 5, 2019 onwards, and subsequently the COVID-19 pandemic that started in the winter of 2020.


Binish Ahmed


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