Mission & Governance

Our Vision

A digital environment in which Indigenous Communities exercise authority and sovereign rights over their intellectual property, cultural and other heritage, genetic resources, and knowledge.

Our Mission

Local Contexts supports Indigenous data sovereignty by creating a digital infrastructure for community governance of Indigenous data. Through our technical platform and services, we aim to create effective and recognized pathways for implementing and maintaining Indigenous data rights and facilitate ethical relationships and enable collaboration with stewards of Indigenous collections.

Our Values

  • Sovereignty
  • Transparency
  • Trustworthiness
  • Accountability
  • Utility
  • Authority
  • Generational Sustainability

The primary objectives of Local Contexts are to enhance and legitimize locally based decision-making and Indigenous governance frameworks for determining ownership, access, and culturally appropriate conditions for sharing historical, contemporary, and future collections of cultural heritage and Indigenous data. 

Local Contexts is focused on increasing Indigenous involvement in data governance through the integration of Indigenous values into data systems. In an increasingly complex legal, social, and cultural environment, the Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Biocultural (BC) Labels offer Indigenous communities a tool to add cultural and historical context and cultural authority to cultural heritage content in their own local digital heritage archives as well as in digital archives, libraries, museums and other digital repositories globally.

Local Contexts offers digital strategies for Indigenous communities, cultural institutions and researchers through the Labels and Notices. Together they function as a practical mechanism to advance aspirations for Indigenous data sovereignty and Indigenous innovation.

Our Guiding Principles

1. We prioritize Indigenous sovereignty and ethical data governance. Our work transcends discipline, geographic, national, and institutional boundaries.

2. We have responsibilities and obligations to support Indigenous Peoples, communities, and organizations and strive for maximal engagement aligned with our core values.

3. Our platform and services are designed to enable Indigenous community adoption and direct and indirect benefits to Indigenous Peoples.

4. We encourage partnership between Local Contexts and those interested in Indigenous sovereignty, data sovereignty, intellectual property, and community management of cultural and other heritage, genetic resources, and community knowledge.

5. We devise creative solutions that meet Indigenous community needs and acknowledge the contexts in which we work.


Aligned with our mission and values, in 2022 Local Contexts was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the laws and jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation and is recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit entity with the US Internal Revenue Service.

We strive for maximum transparency by posting summaries of our Council meetings and we commit to posting our annual IRS Form 990 financial reports.

Our Council

The Local Contexts Council is responsible for the strategic framework that ensures the organization’s activities reflect its values and drive its mission success.

Currently, the Council includes founders of Local Contexts as Charter Members, as well as invited community members. We will transition to an elected Council in 2025, when we put in place our Member and Subscriber policies. At that point, Member representatives are eligible to serve on Council through a nominations and elections process.

Council Members

Jane Anderson

Headshot of Jane Anderson

Vice Chair (Founding Member)

Kim Christen

(Founding Member)

James Eric Francis, Sr.

Chair (Founding Member)

(Penobscot Nation)

Maui Hudson

(Founding Member)

(Whakatōhea Nation)

Laurel L. Haak

Secretary (non-voting)

Stephany Runninghawk Johnson

Photo of Stephany RunningHawk Johnson

Founding Executive Director

(Oglala Lakota Nation)

Sharon Leon

Councilor Community Member

Edwin Oh

Treasurer (non-voting)

Haydn Read

Headshot of Hadyn Read

Councilor Community Member