The Tribal Study of Public Safety and Public Health Issues Facing American Indian and Alaska Native Women — also referred to as the National Baseline Study (NBS) — is a study of public safety and public health of American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women living in Indian Country and AN villages. The information collected from this study will produce a deeper understanding of the victimization of AI and AN women and of their access to and the capacity of formal and community responses and services.
This study will provide a rich and comprehensive picture of AI and AN women’s experiences with violence and victimization, health and wellness, community crime, service needs, and help-seeking behaviors and outcomes, as well as their opinions about public safety.
This study was designed to:
- Document public safety and public health issues faced by AI and AN women living in Indian Country and AN villages.
- Evaluate federal, state, local and tribal governments’ responses to violence against AI and AN women.
- Inform public policies and prevention strategies to decrease victimization rates among AI and AN women.
Context of the Baseline Study
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has a trust responsibility to protect and act for the betterment of tribal nations. As DOJ’s research, development and evaluation agency, NIJ is dedicated to improving knowledge of crime and justice through science conducted in a thoughtful, collaborative manner that respects tribal sovereignty and the self-determination of tribal governments.
The National Baseline Study (NBS) is one component of a broader agenda of NIJ’s Violence Against Indian and Alaska Native Women (VAIW) program of research. This program was implemented to carry out the congressional mandate outlined in Title IX, Section 904(a) of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, as amended by Section 907. This legislation tasked NIJ, in consultation with the Office on Violence Against Women, with conducting research on crime and victimization committed against American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women living in Indian Country.
Purpose of the Baseline Study
The NBS is the first nationally representative study of AI and AN women living in Indian Country and AN villages. AI and AN women will be interviewed to assess their experiences with violence and victimization, health and wellness, community crime, service needs, and help-seeking behaviors and outcomes, as well as their opinions about public safety. Ultimately, the NBS is expected to:
- Produce a deeper understanding of the public safety issues faced by adult AI and AN women living in AI communities and AN villages.
- Quantify the magnitude of violence and victimization in tribal communities to gain a better understanding of service and resource needs.
- Provide accurate data that can be used to formulate public policies and prevention and intervention strategies to decrease the incidence of violence committed against AI and AN women.
- Evaluate the response to violence against AI and AN women by all levels of government.
The NBS research design was driven by the goal to determine an accurate national victimization rate of violence against American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women living in tribal communities. A national estimate provides an overall picture of the patterns and magnitude of violence and victimization against AI and AN women living in tribal areas and AN villages. However, a national sample does not capture the variation in victimization that exists among tribes.
The NBS has a multistage sampling plan. In the first stage, tribes were selected using a plan developed by NIJ that allows for at least one tribe from each of the 12 Indian Health Service regions to be included in the study. This ensures that tribal communities that are geographically dispersed throughout the lower 48 and Alaska are represented in the study. The selected tribes will be approached to participate voluntarily.
The second stage of the sampling plan involves the random selection of households from each participating tribal community. All women in the household are eligible to participate in the study if they:
- Are 18 years of age and older.
- Self-identify as or are enrolled as a members of a tribe.
- Agree to participate in the study.
The purpose of the survey is to understand the experiences of AI and AN women living on tribal land and in AN communities, including their opinions about safety issues in their communities, their experiences with violence, the kinds of support available to them, and their opinions about law enforcement.
The NBS survey will solicit self-reported information related to:
- Respondent demographic characteristics
- Health and wellness
- Community crime and safety
- Psychological aggression, coercive control and entrapment
- Sexual violence, physical violence and stalking
- Perpetrator demographic characteristics
- Impact and reporting of victimization
- Service needs, seeking and utilization
- Attitudes toward law enforcement
- Community strengths
Data Collection Procedures
The survey will be administered in person through a combination of computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) and audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI). With CAPI, an interviewer will read survey questions to the respondent, who will then enter her responses into a laptop. The ACASI technique will be used during parts of the survey that address particularly sensitive subjects. For these questions, respondents will be given a touch-screen laptop and headphones. They will listen to a female voice read the questions, which also will be visible on the computer screen. Participants will enter their answers directly into the computer.
The length of the interview will vary across respondents, but the average length is 60 minutes.
Site-specific protocols will be developed and refined in partnership and coordination with participating tribal nations. This includes:
- Identifying resources and interviewing facilities.
- Providing study support services such as childcare, transportation, behavioral health specialists, interpreters and local interviewers.
- Obtaining confidentiality agreements and addressing any conflicts of interest.
Every precaution will be taken to ensure the privacy and rights of the tribal nations and individual respondents who volunteer to participate in the NBS. Because the NBS is a national, congressionally mandated and federally funded study, it requires review and approval from the Office of Management and Budget. This review includes an assessment of every aspect of the research design, including the data collection methods, sampling plans and study protocols.
NBS staff received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from AIDA’s research partner, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, in September 2014 and from RTI International’s IRB in July 2014. Early in 2015, the Indian Health Service IRB also will do a courtesy review of the NBS research protocols and related materials to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of all participants..
NBS staff will take additional steps to protect participants’ privacy, including privacy certificates, confidentiality agreements and nondisclosure agreements with participating tribes, and information transfer agreements.
Study Timeline and Events
The NBS will take place over 42 months. NIJ and AIDA staff will work with tribal, state and federal stakeholders throughout the study process to continually increase awareness and keep stakeholders informed and updated about the study.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Baseline Study
General Questions About the Study
- Q: What is the purpose of the NBS?
- A: The NBS will provide accurate information on violence against American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women living in tribal communities and AN villages. These national estimates are important and can be used to formulate intervention and prevention strategies.
- Q: Who is responsible for the NBS?
- A: NIJ is responsible for overseeing all NBS activities.
- Q: Who are the stakeholders involved with the NBS?
- A: The most important partners are the tribal communities that agree to participate in the study. NIJ, American Indian Development Associates (AIDA) and RTI International are also involved in the NBS study.
- Q: How long will the study last?
- A: The study is expected to last for 42 months (3½ years). NBS activities began in spring 2014 and will conclude in summer 2017.
- Q: How will the findings be disseminated?
- A: The findings and related study activities will be disseminated in a number of ways. Presentations will be conducted at conferences, meetings, webinars and briefings related to public safety and health and wellness. Possible venues include the U.S. Department of Justice’s annual Tribal Consultation on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Biennial National Indian Nations Conference, the National Congress of American Indians Annual Convention and Marketplace, the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, and congressional briefings and Tribal Council meetings.
Publications also will be prepared for tribal and federal audiences across various channels, such as bulletins for NIJ’s and the Office on Violence Against Women’s websites; manuscripts for submission to tribal, trade and scholarly peer-reviewed publications; tribal community newsletter articles; and articles and interviews for news venues such as Indian Country Today and Native American Calling.
- Q: How can I get copies of publications related to the NBS?
- A: As publications become available, information on how to obtain copies will be made available on this website.
- Q: Is this study confidential? What does confidentiality imply?
- A: Yes, all of the information will be kept strictly confidential, meaning that all of the data will be stored without names, addresses or any other personally identifying information. All of the findings will be tallied and presented in such a way that the information cannot be linked to participants or tribes. Responses are protected from being released with identifying information to anyone.
We will not release the names of the tribes participating in the study. However, tribal leaders may decide on an individual basis to disclose that their tribe participated in the study. Even if this is the case, it will not be possible to link information to particular members of a tribe.
Questions About Tribes
- Q: How were tribes selected for the study?
- A: Tribes were selected from a list of federally recognized tribes. From this list, NIJ and stakeholders selected at least one tribe from each Indian Health Service region. Learn more about the Indian Health Service regions.
- Q: How will the rights of tribal nations be protected?
- A: Since 1993, NIJ has worked successfully with tribal communities by ensuring collaboration and transparency through full partnerships that involve local buy-in and coordination. NIJ and the other study stakeholders are committed to continuing this tradition throughout the NBS process. This includes protecting the rights of tribal nations.
NIJ and AIDA staff will secure permission and approval of tribal government authorities. Because participation is voluntary, NBS staff will communicate directly with tribal leaders to explain the study and gauge interest in participating. If tribal leaders express interest in participating, NIJ and AIDA staff will work directly with them to secure permission through tribal decisionmaking processes (e.g., via tribal council meetings, tribal resolutions, tribal Institutional Review Boards, Memoranda of Understanding or participatory agreements). This includes data and information transfer and sharing agreements, as well as site-specific protocols to ensure the research does not harm the tribal community.
NIJ will not publically disclose the tribal nations and AN villages that agree to participate in the study. Thus, tribes that wish to remain anonymous can do so.
- Q: What will be asked of tribes that participate in the study?
- A: Tribal involvement in the NBS is vital to the success of this research. Tribes that agree to participate will be involved in securing community support and providing input on research objectives, respectful strategies for documenting information, and ways to create safe and trusting environments for study participants. Tribes also will help identify resources for interviewing facilities and provide access to sampling sources such as tribal census, housing lists and tribal voter registrations.
- Q: How will tribes benefit from participating in the NBS?
- A: Tribal respondents that participate in the NBS will receive compensation for their voluntary participation in the study. Tribes that participate will provide input throughout the study to promote the collection of accurate information that could help them develop prevention and intervention strategies to reduce victimization in their communities.
Questions About Participants
- Q: How will NIJ protect the rights of study participants?
- A: NIJ and AIDA staff will secure permission and approval from tribal government authorities. This includes data and information transfer and sharing agreements and site-specific protocols to ensure the research does not harm participants. Read more about privacy in the NBS.
- Q: What will be asked of NBS participants?
- A: Participants will be asked questions about their experiences with violence and victimization, health, crime in their community, service needs and help-seeking behavior, as well as their opinions about safety issues in the community, the types of support available and law enforcement.
The interview will be conducted in person and is expected to last approximately 60 minutes.
Participation in the study is voluntary. Even if someone agrees to participate, she can withdraw her consent at any time. She also may choose to skip (or not answer) questions that she is not comfortable answering.
- Q: How are households selected to participate in the study?
- A: Households are selected at random after tribal leaders agree to participate in the NBS. Once NBS staff receive permission to conduct research in a community, they randomly select households based on the sampling sources (such as tribal census, housing lists or tribal voter registration) provided by tribal leadership.
- Q: How are participants selected to participate in the study?
- A: Women are invited to participate if they live in one of the selected households and meet the eligibility requirements. All women in the household age 18 and older are eligible to participate.
- Q: Is there a cost for participants who take part in the study?
- A: The primary cost to participants is the time it takes to complete the interview (approximately 60 minutes). To the extent possible, NBS staff will provide whatever support services are needed for participants to reduce or eliminate the burden of participating in the study.
- Q: I know someone who wants to participate in this study? How can they sign up?
- A: Unfortunately, it is not possible to volunteer to participate in this study. Participants have to be selected at random. In other words, everyone in the population must have an equal opportunity of being chosen to participate. It is important for participants to be randomly selected to ensure that the sample is representative of the population.