The Harvard University Native American Program continues to expand its research efforts, reaching across issues and across the University to contribute research of use to scholars, educators, policy makers, and Native leaders. Currently, this research is concentrated in the areas of governance, economic development, and education. HUNAP looks forward to the expansion of research along interfaculty lines and into other areas, especially science, health and health policy, and the law. Here are a few of the current research efforts being conducted under the auspices of HUNAP:
The core of research activities currently resides at the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (HPAIED). The Harvard Project's well-known field-based research in Indian Country consistently finds that the effective exercise of sovereignty, combined with capable and culturally grounded institutions of self-government, are indispensable keys to successful, long-term development of Native communities. The concrete dimensions of "cultural match" finding governing and other institutional structures that are consonant with individual Native nations’ cultural standards of legitimacy and feasibility form the heart of the challenge of nation building in Indian Country and beyond.
The Harvard Project has several research projects currently underway. Here are descriptions of a few of these projects:
CIP: The Ford Foundation's Committee on Indigenous Peoples has commissioned the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development to assist the Foundation in developing a strategy to inform and expand its American Indian grant making. The work, which will culminate in a major report to be completed in late spring 2001, has three principle components:
- Native America at the New Millenium (NANM)) With the assistance of a "sounding board" of Indian leaders from a wide array of areas of expertise, this book-length component assesses the current state of Native America across twenty fields, identifies the most pressing short and long-term needs facing American Indians both on and off-reservation, and begins to explore how American Indian affairs fit into international indigenous concerns.
- A Review of Philanthropic Activity This component identifies and analyzes giving trends among donors active on American Indian causes, with an emphasis on providing a practical and constructive assessment of the Ford Foundation's past and current involvement in American Indian affairs.
- Recommendations to the Ford Foundation This component assists the Committee on Indigenous Peoples and the Foundation in their efforts to formulate an even more productive American Indian programming strategy, to identify key areas for collaboration among grantees and Foundation staff, and to improve the administrative capacity of the Committee to best serve its mission.
Constitutional Reform: Working with the Cherokee, Hualapai, Navajo and Northern Cheyenne tribes, the Harvard Project is examining the crucial process of constitutional reform in Indian Country. Based on prior research indicating that constitutional reform is central to nation building and economic development by tribes, the focus of this project is on how certain tribes have overcome tremendous collective action obstacles to revise or amend their tribal constitutions.
Justice and Law Enforcement: The Comprehensive Indian Resources for Community and Law Enforcement, or CIRCLE, project is supported by the US Department of Justice and is a demonstration project designed to explore the benefits of more integrated federal funding for tribal justice programs and of more comprehensive and strategic program planning at the tribal level. Currently under implementation at the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Zuni Pueblo, CIRCLE streamlines the federal funding process by which tribes receive money for youth, victim services, law enforcement, domestic violence, tribal courts, and corrections programs and encourages Indian nations to develop a single strategy for using these funds. The hope is that CIRCLE, through its focus on appropriate funding and effective planning, will enable tribal communities to develop programs that are better able to combat the interlinked community problems of crime, violence, substance abuse, and juvenile delinquency. The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development serves as the national evaluator of the CIRCLE project.
Navajo Nation TANF Project: The Navajo Nation, through its TANF Project and its Division of Economic Development, has invited the Harvard Project to assist the Nation in developing approaches to improving economic conditions and increasing employment opportunities in order, ultimately, to alleviate reservation socioeconomic conditions and to improve the prospects for welfare reform. The Nation has been at the forefront of tribal efforts to get Tribes recognized under the new welfare legislation as the relevant service providers for their respective citizens. These efforts are best demonstrated by the existence of its own TANF program, complete with Navajo-specific rules concerning qualified employment. The Harvard Project has been actively involved in a strategic audit of the government of the Navajo Nation, i.e. reviewing existing Navajo governmental institutions, including current and proposed policies pertaining to economic development, to better understand the role and impact of the Nation's current institutions in promoting the Nation's growth of culturally appropriate successful and effective economic growth.
Other HUNAP-wide research includes:
Mikinaak Onigaming School Improvement
Project: This project is a prototype school transformation
program that will establish a model effective schools improvement
system for Ontario aboriginal schools. HUNAP researchers are studying
strategies for improving the education of Native youth while recognizing
desires for self-determination by First Nations. To this end, the
research team has conducted a comprehensive needs assessment and
a handful of school and community training seminars at the Mikinaak
Onigaming First Nation Reserve in Lake of the Woods country.
Mashpee Wampanoag Health Research Group: As part of a collaboration between the Mashpee Wampanoag Health Board, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (Health and Wellness Unit), Cape Cod Community Healthcare, and Barnstable County epidemiologists and health initiatives, HUNAP has participated in the planning stages of a health needs assessment of the Mashpee Wampanoag. Past research will be enhanced by current focus group research (conducted by a HUNAP health researcher), and the Group will consult together in the design of a health needs survey to be used by researchers at the DPH. Tribal concerns about possible links between environmental pollution and cancer incidence will specifically be explored.
Page last updated: January 9, 2004
© 2001 President and Fellows of Harvard College