Aside from getting approval from my own institution’s IRB board, I needed to get permission from each of the individual schools. For each tribe they have different research protocol. One of the schools that I looked at doing research with had its own IRB board, in addition to a tribal IRB board. This is becoming more common but is still not the norm for most communities.
In order to ensure that I was respecting the sovereignty of the communities that I was interested in working with, and did not have a IRB, I reached out to each tribe’s Education Officer (sometimes known as the Director of Education) and asked them about going about getting permission. I specifically called everyone, while it is okay to contact people through email, I often found that people were more likely to respond to phone calls than emails.
Depending on the tribe, I was directed to talk directly with the superintendent, the head of the school board or a principle. Even after talking with the superintendent or school board head I was often directed to speak with the principle to make sure that they were specifically aware of my research, and that they were okay with allowing me in their school. Following the phone calls, I was usually directed to email my project proposal or a summary of my proposal to a specific person, so that the research could be reviewed and voted on by the school board. To my knowledge my research was never reviewed by tribal council, nor was it suggested that the tribal council review my proposal.