Tribes not rushing to share genetic data with scientists

Ed. Note: This story is actually from December 2006 and we ran it back then! Deja vu.

Tribes in Alaska and the lower 48 states aren't eager to share their genetic data with the National Geographic Society, The New York Times reports.

The Genographic Project plans to collect DNA from 100,000 indigenous people across the world. But researchers in the U.S. have been met with the most resistance.

“It’s a benefit to science, probably,” Dr. Mic LaRoque, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota, told the Times. “But I’m not convinced it’s a benefit to the tribes.”

LaRoque serves as co-chairman of the Alaska Area Institutional Review Board, which operates under the Indian Health Service. The board says the Genographic Project isn't providing enough information to American Indians and Alaska Natives who submit DNA samples.

“What if it turns out you’re really Siberian and then, oops, your health care is gone?” David Barrett, the other co-chairman, told the Times.

Of the 10 geneticists collecting DNA from indigenous people, the North American one has collected the fewest samples for the Genographic Project.

Get the Story:
DNA Gatherers Hit Snag: Tribes Don’t Trust Them (The New York Times 3/3)