The Miiyupimatisiiun Research Data Archives Project Co-establishing a usable Indigenous data management system.

1. Abstract

The Miiyupimatisiiun Research Data Archives Project (MRDAP) is a collaborative digitization and data transfer initiative between medical anthropologist Dr. Naomi Adelson and Whapmagoostui First Nation (FN) in the territory of Eeyou Istchee (James Bay). The project is the result of a longstanding research partnership between Adelson and Whapmagoostui FN that dates back to the late 1980’s. The research data archives consists of a large corpus of materials, including: over 60 hours of digitized audio recordings; over 2,000 digitized colour photographs; and over 50 interview transcripts which have been digitally migrated from 3 ½ inch floppy disks.   

Figure 1: Aerial view of Whapmagoostui First Nation

The MRDAP raises important questions regarding the limitations of existing library and archival principles; the legal and practical barriers to Indigenous data sovereignty; and the role of repositories with colonial histories in stewarding research data originating from Indigenous communities. Can the materials in the archives coexist as Indigenous cultural memory and academic research data? In what ways are these values (in)commensurable? How is community control over data access, dissemination, reproduction, and preservation being navigated? What ought to be the role of the non-Indigenous cultural heritage professional in this relationship?

Figure 2: Photograph from the Miiyupimatisiiun Research Data Archives

This presentation will engage with these questions from the perspective of the settler archivist who digitized the research data archives. We situate the project within the growing body of literature on Indigenous archives and sustainable digital initiatives (Byrne, 2009; Christen, 2011; McKemmish, Faulkhead, & Russell, 2011; Swanson, 2015; Whaanga et al., 2015). We also describe the ways in which key guidance documents such as the OCAP™ Principles and the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials have shaped project design and implementation (First Archivist Circle, 2007; First Nations Centre, 2007). In particular, we describe the ways in which these documents have influenced our decision-making regarding how the research data archives will be managed, accessed, stored, and preserved over the long-term. Overall, we argue that the project serves as a valuable case study on the development of a sustainable Indigenous data management system.

Samuel Mickelson (, Ryerson University, Canada

Theme: Lux by Bootswatch.