Culture and consent

Human tissues collected by anthropologists provoke increasing controversy.

Ricki Lewis(ralewis@nycap.rr.com)
Dec 3, 2002

Blood samples collected in the 1960s from the last major isolated tribe in the Americas caused a commotion at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in New Orleans. At a session on November 22, Yanomami spokesman Peri Porapitheri raised the issue and asked members of the US anthropologists' organization to fund and attend a future meeting in Brazil to discuss the fate of the controversial samples.

The Yanomami have previously demanded the return of the samples, which are still being used by scientists for genetic research. In particular, tribal representatives have expressed concern over samples that constitute the physical remains of people who are now dead, Porapitheri told The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Whether the donors are still living or not, the matter of using human tissue samples collected from indigenous people extends beyond the Yanomami —members of British Columbia's Nuu-chah-nulth tribe are also seeking return...

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