Utilizing Environmental Analytical Chemistry to Establish Culturally Appropriate Community Partnerships
Ingram, Jani C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 09/15/2023
AbstractIn the United States, minority communities are disproportionately exposed to environmental contaminants due to a combination of historically discriminatory based racial policies and a lack of social political capital. Within this demographic, American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) communities have additional factors that increase the likelihood of contaminant exposure. Some of these factors include the disparity of social, cultural, and political representation, differences in cultural understandings between AI/AN communities and western populations, and the unique history of tribal sovereignty in the US. Research from both private and federal organizations starting in the 1990s led to a change in research agendas that emphasized a push to conduct research with AI/AN communities. However, although many research pursuits may be rooted in beneficence, the rift in cultural upbringing can lead to negative outcomes as well as further isolation and misrepresentation of AI/AN communities. Arguably the most significant example of this breakdown is the Havasupai v Arizona Board of Regents case surrounding the misuse of Havasupai blood samples. The outcome of this case led to many Tribal Nations around the United States increasing their distrust of outsiders, regardless of their organizational affiliation. Despite this sobering example, collaborations with AI/AN communities need not be difficult or tempestuous. However, it does require a change in the existing western scientific approach to both community collaborations as well as how science is viewed. Simply put, researchers must work to overcome the initial distrust many Tribal Nations have towards outsiders, and this attitude must be maintained throughout the duration of the partnership. Some obstacles to collaboration include the amount of time and resource allocation as well as identifying the most culturally appropriate methodology while maintaining scientific rigor. Instead of viewing these hurdles as nuisances, western scientists should view them as challenges and the opportunity to adapt their approaches while still maintaining rigorous and reproducible science. An achievable change in heuristics is to approach these type of collaborations as if one is forging a healthy friendship with another individual. This dissertation exemplifies the benefits of adopting these approaches and outlines four years of effort to secure enough trust with two Tribal Nations, the Cocopah and the Colorado River Indian Tribes, to be allowed to conduct a pilot study within their Tribal lands in full collaboration with their governing body. As part of that four years, in addition to numerous in-person and virtual meetings, preliminary data was gathered to demonstrate the potential harm of environmental contaminants to the Tribal population. It should be noted, although there are similarities in the approved methodologies for the pilot grants with the Tribes, they are distinctly different but still address the underlying concerns of the Tribes. This versatility is one of the hallmark benefits of utilizing environmental analytical chemistry in this capacity. Specifically, it allows researchers numerous modalities to investigate the root causes of the environmental concerns a Tribal Nation may have and can be modified to be unique for each community.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Clinical Translational Sciences