About Us

The United States Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network (USIDSN) helps ensure that data for and about Indigenous nations and peoples in the US (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians) are utilized to advance Indigenous aspirations for collective and individual wellbeing.[1] USIDSN’s primary function is to provide research information and policy advocacy to safeguard the rights and promote the interests of Indigenous nations and peoples in relation to data.

Indigenous data sovereignty is the right of a nation to govern the collection, ownership, and application of its own data. It derives from tribes’ inherent right to govern their peoples, lands, and resources. This conception of data sovereignty positions Indigenous nations’ activities to govern data within an Indigenous rights framework. In other words, Indigenous data sovereignty accords with international declarations and covenants to which the US has become a signatory, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Notably, this conception of data sovereignty contrasts with the mainstream understanding of data sovereignty, which is that data are subject to the laws of the nation in which it is stored. USIDSN posits that when data are collected from the people and communities of an Indigenous nation, the data come under the control of that Indigenous nation.

[1] Much of this language is borrowed from the charter of Te Mana Raraunga, the Māori Data Sovereignty Network in Aotearoa/New Zealand founded in July 2015.