Reciprocal Research: A Guidebook to Centering Community in Partnerships with Indigenous Nations


April 22, 2021 - Christie Poitra, Angela Kolonich, A. Ellie Mitchell, <>, Elizabeth LaPensée, <>, Aimee Baier


The Reciprocal Research: A Guidebook to Centering Community in Partnerships with Indigenous Nations was developed and made possible by support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food Agriculture (2020-07133 and 2018-47002-28637) and the National Science Foundation (BCS-1934346).

This guide should be used as part of a larger effort to support planning for, and reflecting on research partnerships. It can be used individually, in a community of scholars, or within a graduate level course.

The guide provides a narrow cross section of potential scenarios and thought-provoking activities to support researchers in developing robust partnerships. It is important not to assume that all tribes have the same experiences with, and interest in, research partnerships and it is damaging to to view this guide as providing all-encompassing knowledge for working with Native American tribal governments and communities.


The workbook is comprised of different scenarios activities that provide scenario and reflection components. It is available as the Guidebook to Centering Community in Partnerships with Indigenous Nations as a PDF download. (Website to come in May 2021.)

  • Land Acknowledgement Information
  • Tribal Sovereignty & Research Partnerships
  • Growing a Research Partnership
  • Establishing Parameters of the Research Partnership
  • Scenario 1: STEM Education Pathways Research
  • Scenario 2: Environmental Assessment Research
  • Scenario 3: Community Gardening & Food Sovereignty Research
  • Scenario 4: Supporting Change by Concluding a Project
  • Scenario 5: Centering Reciprocity


  • Reciprocity Grant Proposal Checklist
  • Positionality Worksheet
  • Revising or Discontinuing a Research Partnership Worksheet
  • References & Further Reading


  • Christie M. Poitra, Interim Director, Native American Institute (NAI), Michigan State University.
  • Angela Kolonich, Director of Professional Learning for the Next Generation Project Based Learning Initiative, CREATE for STEM Institute, Michigan State University.
  • A. Ellie Mitchell, Academic Specialist, College of Arts and Letters, Michigan State University; and Tribal Liaison, NAI (2021).
  • Emily Proctor, Tribal Educator: Tribal Governance and Leadership and Community Engagement, MSU Extension.
  • Elizabeth LaPensée, Assistant Professor, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Michigan State University.
  • Antoinette Shirley, Doctoral Student, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University.
  • Aimee Baier, Graduate Research Assistant, Applied Forest and Wildlife Ecology Laboratory, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University.

The guide was also made possible through partnerships with the:

Creative Commons License

Reciprocal Research: A Guidebook to Centering Community in Partnerships with Indigenous Nations is provided under the terms of the Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

You must give appropriate credit, and indicate if changes were made. You may make and share changes as indicated, but not in a way that suggests the MSU Native American Institute endorses you or your use. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Suggested Attribution

Poitra, C., Kolonich, A., Mitchell, A. E., Proctor, E., Shirley, A., Baier, A.& LaPensée, E. (2021). Reciprocal Research: A Guidebook to Centering Community in Partnerships with Indigenous Nations. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Native American Institute.



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