Development of a culturally anchored qualitative approach to conduct and analyze focus group narratives collected in diné (Navajo) communities to understand the impacts of the gold king mine spill of 2015

Nicolette I. Teufel-Shone, Carmenlita Chief, Jennifer R. Richards, Rebecca J. Clausen, Alfred Yazzie, Manley A. Begay, Nathan Lothrop, Janene Yazzie, Andria B. Begay, Paloma I. Beamer, Karletta Chief

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Gold King Mine Spill (Spill) occurred in August 2015 upstream from Silverton, Colorado and released three million gallons of contaminated water into the Animas River, a tributary to the San Juan River that flows across the Navajo Nation. Using principles of community-engaged re-search, the Gold King Mine Spill Diné Exposure Project co-developed a culturally anchored approach to conduct focus groups and analyze narratives collected in three Diné (Navajo) communities along the San Juan River within 9 months of the Spill. Focus group questions were designed to document the socio-cultural impacts of the Spill. This paper: (1) outlines the partnerships and approvals; (2) describes focus group design, training, data collection and analysis; and (3) reflects on the use of a culturally anchored approach in Indigenous, specifically Diné-centered research. Diné social and cultural etiquette and concepts of relationality were used to adapt standard (non-Indigenous) qualitative methods. Findings describe community perceptions of short-term impacts of the disaster, as well as past and present injustices, communication related to the Spill, and concerns of persistent threats to Diné lifeways. The culturally anchored approach was critical in fostering trust with Diné participants and aligned with the candor of the discussions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9402
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Community engaged research
  • Culturally anchored
  • Decolonized research
  • Environmental disaster
  • Indigenous
  • Navajo Nation
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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