The CAIRNS evaluation team consists of four professionals with extensive experience writing grants, conducting evaluations, teaching in pre K-20 schools in and beyond reservations, and serving as curriculum developers and school principals, among other responsibilities.  Three of us are tribal members, three of us also have earned doctoral degrees, and all of us have served on national or state education committees.

Conventional evaluation emphasizes the measurement of quantitative data and the use of qualitative data to provide a narrative in places where the hard numbers are unable to measure. Traditional Native evaluation emphasizes qualitative approaches, telling the unique stories of the people and using quantitative data to support the narratives.   In order to provide the best evaluation for Native communities, project stakeholders and community members need to participate in the evaluation design and process, thereby making the evaluation part of the project instead of appearing as an audit by an outside entity.

CAIRNS believes that the evaluation of projects that provide services to Native communities should include four dimensions—spatial, social, spiritual and experiential—that conceptually define traditional Native communities. Because these four dimensions are grounded in the traditions of a community, they resonate from long ago through today and into the future.