Declaration of Indigenous Peoples on Genome Project

Robert Johnson (johnsorl@COLORADO.EDU)
Tue, 28 Feb 1995 01:07:03 -0700

Declaration of Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere Regarding the
Human Genome Diversity Project

We are the original peoples of the Western hemisphere of the continents of
North, Central and South America. Our principles are based upon our
profound belief in the sacredness of all Creation, both animate and
inanimate. We live in a reciprocal relationship with all life in this
divine and natural order.

Our responsibility as Indigenous Peoples is to insure the continuity of the
natural order of all life is maintained for generations to come.

We have a responsibility to speak for all life forms and to defend the
integrity of the natural order.

In carrying out these responsibilities we insure that all life in its
natural progression and diversity continues in a reciprocal relationsh=A1p
with us.

We hold precious all life in its natural form. The harmonious progress of
the natural order in the environment shapes and defines healthy genetic

The principle of harmony requires that we do not violate the principles of
Creation by manipulating and changing the natural order.

Given that our natural relationship has been interfered with by foreign or
non-Indigenous external forces in a long history of destruction we have
never abandoned those responsibilities.

In the long history of destruction which has accompanied western
colonization we have come to realize that the agenda of the non-indigenous
forces has been to appropriate and manipulate the natural order for the
purposes of profit, power and control.

To negate the complexity of any life form by isolating and reducing it to
it's minute parts, western science and technologies diminishes its identity
as a precious and unique life form, and alters its relationship to the
natural order.

Genetic technologies which manipulate and change the fundamental core and
identity of any life form is an absolute violation of these principles, and
creates the potential for unpredictable and therefore dangerous

Therefore, we the Indigenous Peoples participating in this meeting
representing communities from North Central and South America reject all
programs involving genetic technology.

We particularly oppose the Human Genome Diversity Project which intends to
collect, and make available our genetic materials which may be used for
commercial, scientific and military purposes.

We oppose the patenting of all natural genetic materials. We hold that
life cannot be bought, owned sold, discovered or patented, even in it's
smallest form.

We abhor such acts and urge the international community to insist on the
development of international conventions which protect all life forms from
genetic destruction and manipulation.

We denounce and identify the instruments of intellectual property rights
patent law and apparatus of informed consent as tools of legalized western
deception and theft.

We denounce all instruments of economic apparatus such as NAFTA, GATT and
the World Trade Organization (WTO) which continue to exploit people and
natural resources to profit powerful corporations assisted by governments
and military forces of developed countries.

We demand that scientific endeavors and resources be prioritized to support
and improve social, economic and environmental conditions of indigenous
peoples in their environments, thereby improving health conditions and
raising the overall quality of life.

We reaffirm that indigenous peoples have the fundamental rights to deny
access to, refuse to participate in, or to allow removal or appropriation
by external scientific projects of any genetic materials.

We demand the Human Genome Diversity Project and any other such scientific
project cease any attempts to seduce or coerce participation in their
projects through promises of benefits and financial gain in order to obtain
consent and participation of indigenous peoples.

We demand an immediate moratorium on collections and/or patenting of
genetic materials from indigenous persons and communities by any scientific
project. health organization governments, Independent agencies, or
individual researchers.

We demand that nation-state governments and their departments do not
participate, fund or provide any assistance to the Human Genome Diversity
Project or any related programs or seek to hold patents or otherwise
benefit from the genetic materials taken from indigenous peoples.

We call on religious communities, human rights social justice and
environmental organizations, funding agencies, all individuals and
institutions refuse to participate, fund or provide other assistance to the
Human Genome Diversity Project and any related programs.

We extend our support and solidarity to all those who are resisting these
efforts or are seeking the repatriation of genetic materials already taken
or removed from their control.

We urge the international community and the United Nations to participate
with Indigenous peoples in developing international policies and
conventions which protect all life forms from genetic manipulation and

We call on our brothers and sisters of the indigenous nations around the
world and concerned peoples in the international community to stand up and
unite in our efforts to protect the natural diversity and integrity of all

The support of all humans in this declaration would protect the sacredness
of all life, the natural order, and would provide a healthy future for
generations to come.

As declared by the undersigned participating organizations in Phoenix,
Arizona on February 19 of 1995:

Amazanga Institute, Provincia de Pastaza, Ecuador
Asociacion Kunas Unidos Pro Napguana, Panama
Coordinadora de Mujeres Indigenas de Bolivia, La Paz. Bolivia
Council of Athabaskan Tribal Governments, Stevens Village, Alaska
En'owkin Center, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
Independent Traditional Seminole Nation of Florida, Immokaiee, Florlda
Indigenous Environmental Network, National Office, Bemidji, Minnesota
Indigenous Environmental Network, Oklahoma Region, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Indigenous People's Alliance, Phoenix Arizona
Indigenous Peoples Support Network, London, Ontario, Canada
Indigenous Women's Network, Boulder, Colorado
Inter-Ethnic Association of the Peruvian Rain Forest (AIDESEP), Peru
International Indian Treaty Council, San Francisco, California
South and Meso American Information Center (SAIIC), Oakland, California
Sovereignty People's Information Network, British Columbia, Canada
Tonantzin Land Institute, Albuquerque New Mexico
Tonatierra, Phoenix, Arizona

South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC)
Box 28703
Oakland, CA 94604
(510) 834-4263 Fax: (510) 834-4264 Email:
Home Page:
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