International Institute for
Indigenous Resource Management


These papers, by the staff and associates of the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management, were developed, all or in part, with the support of a grant, DE-FG03-00ER63004 from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The Institute came to the ethical, legal, and social issues of genetic research as a logical consequence of our work on the implications, for indigenous peoples, of risk science, radioactive waste management, and intellectual property law.

These papers are also the result of Institute sponsored roundtables on genetic research issues. Through these roundtables, tribal leaders, legal scholars, researchers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and others identified critical gaps in our knowledge of the native peoples-genetic research interface and set out the policy, legal, and scientific research agenda required to fill those gaps. For example, we knew native peoples objected to the diversion of tissues, ostensibly taken for medical research, to support research on migration studies. What our roundtables pointed out was that we did not know the extent to which such diversions occur. Similarly, we knew some native peoples objected to “biopiracy”—the harvesting of their tissues for use by pharmaceutical companies. Again, our roundtables pointed out that we did not know the extent to which this practice occurs. The papers by Jones and Barsh fill in part of that gap by identifying relevant genetic research projects, the funding sources of such research projects and the cell lines used. Other papers suggest tribal-specific approaches to genetic research and set out alternative means of protecting the intellectual property rights of native peoples using the current IPR regime.

Our workshops and roundtables generated a number of briefing papers, reports, and transcripts. We post these documents to our website as they are finalized so we encourage you to visit us regularly to view our latest offerings.

Title:  Genetics, Culture and Identity in Indian Country
Author: Kimberly Tallbear
Date: October 23, 2000
Title:  The Tribal Specific Approach to Genetic Research and Technology
Author: Kimberly Tallbear
Date: February 9, 2001
Title:  Contracts and Licenses for Genetic Information: An Introduction to Alternative Mechanisms for Protecting the Intellectual Property of American Indians in The Context of the Human Genome Project
Author: David J. Stephenson, Jr. J.D., Ph.D.
Date: April 6, 2001
Title:  Traditional Indian Law, the Intellectual Property Regime, and the Protection of Indigenous Genetic Materials
Author: James W. Zion
Date: June 2001
Title:  Ancient Hawaiian Management of Genetic Material
Author: Christian Palmer
Date: July 18, 2001
Title:  Pharmacogenomic Drug Discovery: Real Actors and Real Issues for Native Peoples
Author: Russel Lawrence Barsh
Date: January 2002
Title:  Geographical Indicators and the Protection of Indigenous Resources: An Examination of How Geographical Indicators Can Be Utilized as a Tool to Protect Indigenous Resources from Outside Exploitation and Generic Limitations
Author: Kyra Lit and Mervyn L. Tano
Date: January 2002
Title:  International Trade, Intellectual Property Rights, and Indigenous Knowledge: The Case of Plant Genetic Resources
Author: Grant E. Isaac and William A. Kerr
Date: May 2002
Title:  The Right of Native Peoples to Genetic Material as Cultural Property
Author: James W. Zion
Date: January 2003
Title: American Indian mtDNA and Y Chromosome Genetic Data: A Compehensive Report of their Use in Migration and Other Anthropological Studies
Author: Peter N. Jones
Date: July 2004
Title:  Mokomokai: Commercialization and Desacralization
Author: Christian Palmer and Mervyn L. Tano
Date: August 2004