Local Research Review Board


The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Council first recognized a need for research oversight on the Lake Traverse Reservation in October 2013, when they passed Tribal Council Motion No. 10 to establish what was then called a Tribal Internal Review Board (IRB). In June 2014, the Tribal Council passed Tribal Council Resolution No. SWO-14-055, establishing a partnership with the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH). This partnership provided funding for the Research Office and to develop the Local Research Review Board. In September 2014, the Local Research Review Board was established and began granting permission to researchers to conduct research on the Lake Traverse Reservation. The LRRB is comprised of eight members of varying education levels, experience, and backgrounds. Each member was recruited to serve on the LRRB because of their expertise in a given areas. The education and experience of the Board members provide each research protocol a comprehensive, balanced and thoughtful review while also evaluating the cultural relevance and necessity of the research project. The LRRB meets on the third Monday of every month.

LRRB 2020 Meeting Schedule & Researcher’s Submission Deadlines

LRRB 2020 Meeting Schedule

SWO Local Research Review Board Membership


Heather Larsen, M.Ed. Heather Larsen is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. As the Research Specialist, she serves as the facilitator of the Local Research Review Board, oversees all activities of the Tribal Research Office, and administers the Research Codes. Heather’s education background includes the following: Associate of Art degree in General Studies from Sisseton Wahpeton College, Bachelor of Art degrees in American Indian Studies and Liberal Arts for the Human Services, University of Minnesota Morris, and a Master of Education degree in Administration of Student Affairs, Counseling and Human Development from South Dakota State University. She has five years of experience employed in the Higher Education field, which includes working in the student support services department at the Sisseton Wahpeton College with the recruitment and retention of high school and college students. Her other previous professional experience is in the human services/social work field, more specifically in a tribal financial assistance program. She has a professional membership with Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), where she learns about furthering the advancement of ethical research and connects with other professionals. Heather attended a Tribal IRB training in 2010 at the Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation in Washington. This training sparked her interest in the necessity for Tribes to have their own review boards regarding all research conducted with Indigenous people. Heather feels very strongly about the huge responsibility and obligation to include tribal and cultural knowledge in the conduct of research within tribal communities. Her involvement with the LRRB has stemmed from providing research oversight for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in her current position. Heather has been a member and coordinator of the LRRB since 2015.
Sherry Johnson, Ed.D. Dr. Sherry Johnson is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. She is the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Education Director, providing administrative and coordination support for the Tribal Education Programs. Dr. Johnson was awarded an AA Degree in General Studies from the Sisseton-Wahpeton College, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Sinte Gleska University, a Master of Science Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Science Education and Elementary Principal Certification, Doctorate Degree from the University of South Dakota in Curriculum and Instruction with Educational Administration and Superintendent Certification, a School Improvement Certification Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was instrumental in building the foundation of the Tribal Research Office by writing Chapter 77, the Research Code that established the Research Office, created the Local Research Review Board and provided the procedures for conducting research on the Lake Traverse Reservation. Dr Johnson wrote a grant to fund the Research Office and its activities. She has been a member of the Local Research Review Board since its inception in 2014. Dr. Johnson states, “Safe guarding tribal members, specifically youth, from the numerous requests for research and ensuring that the approved research methods are appropriate is a big responsibility.” Dr. Johnson notes that the two biggest areas of research on the Lake Traverse Reservation are in the fields of health and education. She stays active on the LRRB to ensure that research oversight is provided equally to all tribal schools.
Sean Core, B.S. Sean Core has close ties to the community and is married to an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. He is the Wildlife Biologist for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate as well as an adjunct instructor in the field of biology for the Sisseton Wahpeton College. He has been in the Sisseton area since 2015. In addition to his work in the fields of biology and education, Sean has over a decade of experience in the field of healthcare, beginning his career as a field medic in the United States Air Force. Sean obtained his A.S in Allied Health Science through the Community College of the Air Force before obtaining his B.S. in Biology minoring in both Chemistry and Business Administration from Colorado State University-Pueblo. He is currently completing his M.S. in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology through Colorado State University. Sean’s research experience includes the synthesis of ligand compounds for use as artificial enzymes. Sean has been involved with the Local Research Review Board since 2016. He began his involvement with the LRRB because of his interest in healthcare related research, and wanting to make a positive impact on his community.
Sara DeCoteau, B.A.
Sara DeCoteau, B.A. Sara DeCoteau is an honorary member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. She is the SWO Health Coordinator and has worked for the Tribe for 42 years plus two years as a VISTA Volunteer. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services and Management from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Sara has worked with various national, state, regional and tribal health organizations, including the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board, Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality, South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition, SWO Inter-agency In Home Care Team, Community Safety Team, Behavioral Health Inter-agency Team and First 1,000 Days Initiative Inter-agency Forum. She has been involved with several health related research projects, including Cavity-Free in 2-0-1-3 and Patterns of Cancer Care. In addition, she has served as the Principle Investigator for two research projects approved by the LRRB: the Pregnancy Health Survey for Parents of Newborns on the Lake Traverse Reservation and the Centers for Disease Control Epi-Aid: Substance Use During Pregnancy among American Indian Mothers. Sara has been a member of the Local Research Review Board since its inception in 2014. Sara was drawn to serve on the LRRB because of her interest in SWO specific health data and its uses in monitoring and improving health locally.
Dawn Eagle, M.A. Dawn Eagle is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. She is currently the Associate Manager of the Dakota Magic Casino. Her previous professional experience includes work as a chemical dependency counselor and in social programs; in addition, she also worked as the Research Specialist and was an elected representative on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Council. Dawn was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies from the University of South Dakota and a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of South Dakota. She has been a member of the LRRB since its inception in 2014. She has had an interest in research for many years. She was part of several evaluation projects at the University of South Dakota, Winnebago and with the Paiute Tribe. She says that it is important for research to be culturally sensitive and that it be representative of our people and be respectful of our worldview. She believes that research oversight is extremely important.
Francis Arpan, Ph.D.
Dr. Francis Arpan was born in Wagner, SD and is an enrolled tribal member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. He is currently a full-time faculty member at Sisseton Wahpeton College (SWC) and has previously worked in higher education at Aims Community College (Greeley, CO), South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD), Southern New Hampshire University (Online), and the University of South Dakota (Rapid City, SD). Aside from a career in higher education, Dr. Arpan served in the US Air Force as an Egress Systems Mechanic at Eielson AFB, AK. Dr. Arpan received his Ph.D. in Sociology from South Dakota State University, received a MA in Educational Administration-Higher Education from the University of South Dakota, and received a BS in History/Sociology from Black Hills State University. Dr. Arpan has worked with Sisseton Wahpeton College since 2016, first as an adjunct instructor, then as a researcher leading an ongoing project exploring barriers and facilitators to tribal student educational attainment and success, and now in his current position as a full-time faculty member. Dr. Arpan’s research experience includes his ongoing research with tribal students at SWC, research assistant doing data collection for Horizons Project, and evaluation research for an NSF scholarship grant with the Department of Engineering at South Dakota State University. Dr. Arpan’s passion is centered around education, developing a greater understanding of the issues that affect Native American students and how to address those issues, and how to increase the research capacities of Native American communities. This passion is what led Dr. Arpan to his work with the Sisseton Wahpeton College and his participation with the LRRB (since 2020).

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