Re: Decolonizing Anthropology

Jerry W. Forstadt (forstadt@ASU.EDU)
Thu, 2 Feb 1995 17:11:34 -0700

On Thu, 2 Feb 1995, Robert Johnson wrote:

> Proposal #7
> Native Americans must be given ownership over the genetic resources
> of their indigenous horticulture including the current and future
> genetic manipulation of those resources.

I may as well comment to the list since my private comments seem to find
their way there anyway. Mr. Johnson could make quite a career out of
making blanket, provocative statements backed neither by specifics nor
apparently any sense of reality. With proposal #7, Johnson seems to be
crawling further out on his limb perhaps out of a need to provoke even
more outrageous comments than have already been issued by other members
of this list in response to his earlier proposals. Although I may be
considered an aggrieved party who rightfully may charge Native Americans
with passing syphillis to the Old World, thereby affecting and
contributing to the madness of others, inciting them into Jew-baking
frenzies and other atrocities, I will not for I recognize the limits of
reason. Also, the origins and early migration of syphillis are not

Regarding proposal #7, perhaps we can take corn as an example. I presume
maize and other crops developed in the New World are what Johnson is
talking about. Every crop that is grown in the world today was at one
time developed by aboriginal populations and further manipulated by
others. Wouldn't this kind of copywriting be not only unprecedented but
ridiculous? Should the producers of Blue Corn chips be required to pay
royalties to the Zuni? Or would the Zuni be guilty of manipulating and
profiting from a product developed in central Mexico thousands of years
ago? To whom must the Zuni pay royalties?
J. W. Forstadt