Guiding Principles

The work of USIDSN is underpinned by the following guiding principles:

1. Self-Determination: Self-determination speaks to the aspirations of Indigenous nations and peoples to be in control of their own affairs and to influence activities that have the potential to affect their citizens and environments (lands, waterways, and natural resources, among others). Self-determination is expressed as direct engagement in efforts to exercise data sovereignty. First Nations in Canada provide an example of how an Indigenous data framework can support the expression of self-determination and sovereignty in terms of the OCAP©[1] principles of ownership, access, control and possession.

2. Responsibility: A nation’s responsibility for its population stems from Indigenous peoples’ right to enjoy their ways of life, protect their cultures, access quality education, experience good health, and attain employment and economic development opportunities. Ethical and Indigenously driven data-use has the potential to greatly contribute to these shared Indigenous aspirations.

3. Governance: Data sovereignty refers to Indigenous nations’ right to own, collect, and use data; data governance is the implementation or exercise of that right to control, produce, oversee, store, analyze, and use data. Governing data requires an oversight group (e.g., a board or committee) to set goals, policies, and procedures, and a plan and people to execute the procedures.

4. Guardianship: Effective stewardship requires that individual community members’ concerns about data privacy and security be properly balanced against Indigenous nations’ concerns about policy making, community goals, and data sustainability. How Indigenous nations and peoples identify appropriate data guardians and the guidelines by which they operate is a key consideration of the USIDSN.


[1] The OCAP principles are trademarked by the First Nations Information Governance Centre. They articulate First Nations’ authority to control data collection processes in their communities and to determine how the data are used. The First Nations InformationGovernance Centre