Memorandum of Understanding

Grant Methodology: A Partnership of Collaboration and Respect  

As co-Principal Investigators we will follow California tribal nations’ and communities’ research protocol regarding research subjects, methodology, and publishing. We will work together on any research endeavor in a transparent manner. Our commitment is to follow California Indigenous forms of culture based upon traditional ideas of equality and relationships that challenge settler colonial notions of hierarchy between men and women, Native and non-Native, and humans and non-humans. We acknowledge the historical trauma and its enduring effects for California Natives caused by the centuries long colonial experience, and especially the mission system.

Our project will be based on a collaborative methodology that highlights the importance of respect between California Native tribal nations, communities, and both Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and scholars. We will emphasize the importance of respect between everyone involved and we will regard each other as respectful allies across differences of race, class, gender, tribal nation — including those federally recognized, state recognized and non-recognized — as well as geography and age. We will highlight the importance of following respectful California Native and tribal nations’ research protocol about appropriate research topics, questions, publishing and methodology.

We will highlight everyone’s roles in this endeavor with respect for all contributions. In order to make lasting changes and impacts, it is essential that we work together as allies across our multiple differences. Rather than following hierarchical or top-down models of organization and communities, our goal is to work collaboratively in an equal and respectful manner. We will discuss in a model of transparency our various roles and contributions with all members of our collaborative intellectual community. We realize that the UC is not a decolonizing institution. Nevertheless, we are committed to a respectful and collaborative process within the confines of the UC grant and to the best of our abilities as researchers and faculty members.  The UC faculty Principal investigators bear the fiscal responsibility and budgetary accountability of the grant and therefore must follow the rules of the UC system.  The faculty PIs listen and follow California Natives’ leadership about research topics, methodology, publishing, and protocol, and at the same are obligated to remain fiscally and otherwise accountable to the rules, guidelines, and policies of the UC system.


The grant leadership structure reflects collaboration and partnership with diverse California Indian tribal nations and peoples who have been impacted by the history of the missions.

Critical Mission Studies Coordinating Committee

The Coordinating Committee is composed of the 4 UC Faculty Principal Investigators and 4 California Indian Research Partners. The coordinating committee has the following duties:

-setting and articulating research goals and priorities for the project;

-coordinating activities with campuses, communities, co-Investigators, and the CMS Advisory Board;

-assisting with organizing and supervising grant-wide major and milestone activities;

-constituting the ad-hoc selection committees for each call;

-reviewing research project reports.

Principal Investigators (4) – Charlene Villaseñor Black (UCLA, lead); Jennifer Scheper Hughes (UCR); Renya Ramirez (UCSC); Ross Frank (UCSD)

UC Principal Investigators have the additional responsibility to assure:

-CMS funds allocated to their campus are expended appropriately in accordance with the approved CMS budget;

-funded research is completed in a timely manner;

– compliance with research and grant protocols and with relevant with UC, state, and federal policies and regulations.

-Lead PI (Villaseñor) has the responsibility for distributing grant funds to the participating campuses, assuring compliance with the overall CMS grant budget, and completing required reports to the UC Office of Research.

California Indian Research Partners  (4)

California Indian Research Partners have the additional responsibility to:

-provide guidance and oversight about research questions, topics, publishing, and protocol;

-work in collaboration with a research team that may include UC co-PIs, postdocs, grad and undergraduate students;

– participate in meetings with UC co-PIs and with the CMS Board;

– engage in research related to CMS and present supported research at conference.

CMS California Indian Advisory Board (12-15 members)

Members are selected to reflect the diversity of those who were impacted and affected by the California missions, including California Indian tribal nations and peoples, whether recognized or non-recognized by the Federal or State government.

New members may be nominated by UC PIs, California Indian Research Partners, by existing board members, by their tribes, or may self-nominate. The CMS Coordinating Committee and the board vote to confirm additional members.

The CMS Board functions as liaison with larger CA Indian community.  It receives regular reports from the CMS Coordinating Committee regarding the activities of the grant, reviews the grant activities and budget, and works with the CMS Coordinating Committee to set the research direction solicited in the calls for proposals and selecting the CMS funded projects adhering to UC policies, standards and procedures.  The CMS Board has oversight regarding matters of California Native research protocol, publishing, and methodology.

The CMS Board functions as a self-governing body as to procedure and leadership and will decide by majority vote.  It will meet in person at least once per year of the grant with the Coordinating Committee and may be consulted as needed.

CMS Board members follow a model of respectful collaboration, listening to everyone involved across differences of age, race, gender, class, tribal affiliation, political status and age. CMS Board members understand that the UC co-PIs must follow UC policies, procedures and standards, including budgetary accounting, reporting, and processes for working within the UC system.

California Mission Studies Co-investigators – 1) Includes participating CA Indian UC faculty and other faculty researchers. All official co-Investigators must submit a CV for approval for inclusion to UC Office of the President. 2) All recipients of research and dissemination sub-awards from the grant are also regarded as Co-Investigators by the Coordinating Committee.