Unique Challenges of Child Development Research in Sovereign Nations in the United States and Canada

Nicole L. Thompson, Nancy Rumbaugh Whitesell, Renee V. Galliher, Barbara M. Gfellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Native children have been underrepresented in child development research in the United States and Canada. Their omission from studies is often attributable to specific challenges that add layers of complexity to the research process and require extensive commitment, time, and resources on the part of researchers. This article provides an overview of challenges specific to research in sovereign Native nations, including coordinating tribal and university research review processes, allowing for tribal review of publications and presentations, advocating for funding, adapting research timelines, and negotiating ownership of data. In the end, the complex interplay between tribal governments, review boards, academic institutions, and funding agencies is worth navigating, not only because of the benefits that researchers may be able to bring to Native children but also because of the important lessons that Native children can bring to researchers, helping them to broaden their perspectives on the processes of child development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-65
Number of pages5
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • American Indian child development
  • Negotiation between researchers and tribal communities
  • Tribal Institutional Review Board
  • Tribal sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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