Research Support


In February 2016, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the adoption of the Tribal Consultation Policy. The Policy (ABOR 1-118) affirms ABOR's commitment in support of respectful government-to-government relationships with sovereign Native Nations. ABOR 1-118 functions as the highest level of authority, outlining ABOR's expectations and requirements when engaging with Native Nations, by recognizing fundamental principles of tribal sovereignty, consultation, and respect.  When collaborating in research and institutional engagements with Native Nations, the University of Arizona community, including its students, administrators, faculty and staff, is required to abide by and uphold all elements of the ABOR policy.  For the complete UA guidelines, click <here>.


ABOR 1-118 requires that all human and non-human research projects, including both unfunded and funded sponsored projects, University of Arizona Foundation initiatives, contracts, intra-university agreements, and other instruments related to tribal engagement must be supported by documented evidence of consultation and approval (ABOR 1-118 B(2)(b)).  

Documented evidence can include but is not limited to letters or electronic communications of support or approval, requests for assistance or engagement, memoranda of agreement/understanding, tribal resolutions,contracts or other forms of agreement or evidence of consultation.

The following is a list of research or institutional engagement activities where documentation of consultation is required:

  • The research or institutional engagement targets Native Americans for enrollment or participation and takes place in Indian Country or Alaska Native homelands, and/or on land under the control or jurisdiction of a sovereign tribe; or
  • Human research is conducted in Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities or involving IHS staff or resources; or
  • The research or institutional engagement involves participation by members of a sovereign tribe and may foreseeably result in research results with implications specific to a tribe or to individuals as members of a tribe; or
  • Any research or institutional engagement involving human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony that are subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act; or
  • The research involves human subjects, including genetic testing or testing of blood, tissue, or other biological materials if the individual's membership in or affiliation with a tribe is identified, and that is intended to or may foreseeably result in conclusions or generalizations about a tribe or individuals as members of the tribe.


A determination needs to be made whether the project is human research requiring IRB approval.   Procedures and required documentation including the "Determination of Human Research" form can be found on the HSPP website.


RDI requires the principal investigator or project director to collect and retain documentation of consultation indicating approval from the Native Nation (ABOR 1-118 II (C)(2). Authorizations (e.g., letters or electronic communications of support or approval, requests for assistance or engagement, memoranda of agreement or understanding, tribal resolutions, contracts, research or ethnographic permits, crossing permits, special use permits or other forms of agreement or consultation) are required prior to having access to Native land or property. Please see the Human Subjects Protection Program Guidance and Procedures for the University's data storage and retention policy. The Native Peoples Technical Assistance Officeis available for assistance and support. These consultative documents are subject to compliance review on the request. 


NPTAO has worked with many Native Nations across Arizona to obtain copies of the most up-to-date policies and protocols that control research processes and outline procedures for conducting research. Where possible, they are provided here.  As distinct political entities, Native nations have the right to enact their own laws, rules, and protocols regarding research.  Not all Native nations have defined research protocols. Ultimately, in cases where no written policies exist, a tribe’s decision-making power vested with Native Nations to allow research/engagement activities within reservation boundaries may be found in a tribe’s constitution. They are collected here. NPTAO’s Tribal Community Profiles provide a current leadership roster and a current census-based snapshot of Arizona’s Native Nations as well as citations of sections within each tribe’s constitution, and Tribal and federal laws that may pertain to institutional research or community engagement. Click Tribal Community Profiles and Research Protocols for more information. However, there may be other or additional individuals, groups, organizations or traditional authorities with whom the researcher may be required to consult and collaborate prior to and during the proposed research or institutional engagement.  The responsibility is with the researcher to ensure contact with the appropriate officials at the Native nation or Indigenous community is undertaken.


When considering research with Indigenous communities, it is important to understand that indigenous peoples have collective, as well as individual rights.  A notable statement of collective inigenous rights can be found in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).  The following Articles of the Declaration have specific relevance to research.

States shall establish and implement, in conjuction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples' laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories, and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used.  Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process (Article 27).

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts.  They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their indellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditonal knowlede, and traditional cultural expressions (Article 27).


Check with NPTAO to learn ways in which our faculty, students, and staff are actively engaged in collaborative projects in Indian Country. 

Additional Resources:

  • The Office for the Responsible Conduct of Research supports research excellence at The University of Arizona through the adoption and implementation of policies and procedures that promote the safe, legal, and ethical conduct of research.
  • The Human Subjects Protection Program is the administrative and regulatory support program to the institutional Review Boards to maintain an ethical and compliant research program.  An IRB must review all research and related activities involving human subjects at the University of Arizona.
  • The Sponsored Projects Services assists the University of Arizona research community in its efforts to secure external funding by providing high quality administrative and financial services to ensure proper stewardship of those funds.