Indigenous data sovereignty in action: The Food Wisdom Repository

Michelle Johnson-Jennings, Derek Jennings, Meg Little


The rapidly expanding digital ecosystem has placed Indigenous data sovereignty (IDS) in high relief. The context of what, how, when, why, and by whom data is collected and controlled determines social narratives. Colonised data and data over which Indigenous people have sovereignty can produce vastly different results in decision-making, policy development, outcome assessment, and accountability.

The authors, while at the Research for Indigenous Community Health (RICH) Center, recognised that while health information is available, it is currently dispersed, disconnected, and difficult to access. Thus they proposed the development of a Food Wisdom Repository (Repository), with support from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, to provide an abundance of meaningful data, resources, and information sharing opportunities emerging from Indigenous health efforts. Drawing from the existing health needs, extant literature, and guidance from their external advisory committee, the authors proposed the development of an online digital repository of wise food practices that is grounded within Indigenous knowledges (IK) and IDS.

The theoretical framework underlying the Repository is explained, including IDS that centres and privileges an Indigenous worldview, IK, and wise practices in order to reverse the wave of biased or omitted data affecting Indigenous communities. Future plans for the online digital Repository include ongoing needs assessments, and hosting strengths-based data and stories that resist, recollect, and reclaim Indigenous ways of health, wellness, as well as innovations to address challenges in the field of Indigenous food, nutrition, health, and wellness.


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