Written by SIIA’s Quality Assurance Lead 

Since time immemorial the Nations on the South Island have collected data, and used it, to navigate the world and the relationships with their human and non-human kin within it. Admittedly, this might not be the language used in community to talk about the stories, teachings, and ways of being that have been passed down through generations, let us think about the following statements and reflection questions: 

Your uncle can tell, just looking out the window in the morning whether it will be a good day to go out fishing.  

What indicators is your uncle looking for—how big are the waves? Are the trees swaying? How high is the tide? Does he keep a record of tide heights?  

Your grandmother knows, based on a slight change in your voice and demeanor, that something might be wrong.  

What is your grandmother’s baseline understanding of your health? What other factors does she consider in her judgement? How does she use this information to inform how she treats you that day? How will she know when you are feeling better?  

Your family stops/begins certain seasonal activities based on cues in the natural world

 Where did your family learn about these cues, indicating a season change? How do these cues affect your participation in certain activities? Who makes sure these teachings are followed? 

All of this is data! As people, we are all constantly sifting through all the data available to us, finding what is meaningful to us and making decisions accordingly. 

For some, the appearance of the WEXES (frog) was a sign to end the activities of Winter ceremonial dances and move outdoors to prepare for the season when the Salmon people would return.


The seasoned fisherman within our communities have ways of knowing whether to head out on the water.

Why does it matter? 

Gwen Phillips, a Ktunaxa data sovereigntist, talks about how without data, governance is nothing but an exercise of humility. As SIIA works with the SI Nations to reassert their inherent jurisdiction over their children, families, and communities, we cannot understate the importance that data will play in ensuring that all functions of this governance structure (both at a legislative and Nation level) will be well informed to make decisions, and tell our own stories in our own words.  

Imagine your uncle closing his eyes as he looks out the window, limiting his sources of information, and making his decision based off that. Without data, SIIA would be essentially doing the same thing as it attempts to plan for child, family, and community wellness. Stay tuned to learn what kind of tools SIIA has been exploring to measure what matters to our own people!