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Genographic Project Update                                                                        August 1, 2005

As you may recall, on April 13, 2005, National Geographic Society announced the launch of the “Genographic Project,” which intends to collect 100,000 DNA samples from Indigenous peoples for human origins and migration research.  Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism (IPCB) along with many of our friends and colleagues around the world quickly opposed the project because of the risks it poses for Indigenous peoples.

The Project has already received approval from the University of Pennsylvania Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board to commence the North America branch of the Project.  The North American research protocol will serve as a basis for the other regional protocols, which are in the process of development and approval from local ethics review boards at the nine other regional research centers.  We have reviewed the research protocol and maintain our stance that it is unethical to proceed with a project in which the risks to research subjects (Indigenous peoples) outweighs the benefits.  We will make this protocol available soon for download from our website (

On July 15, 2005, the IPCB board members and staff met with the Genographic Project coordinators, including Dr. Spencer Wells, for an informational briefing.  Despite our adamancy that the project has several intractable ethical problems, it is apparent that the National Geographic Society is committed to steamroll ahead with their effort to amass the world’s largest collection of Indigenous peoples’ genetic material and database of oral histories. 

It is clear that the campaign against the Genographic Project needs to step into high gear.  Many of you have already joined the petition against the Genographic Project calling for National Geographic, IBM Corporation, and the Waitt Family Foundation to abandon The Genographic Project and all of its aims.  We now need to alert our communities to refuse to participate. 

Below and attached are two resolutions calling for a halt to the Project.  One resolution is tailored to Indigenous nations and tribes, which prohibits Genographic Project activities, such as blood and oral history collection, from being conducted on tribal lands.  The other resolution is drafted for adoption by non-governmental organizations.

Please contact IPCB if you have any questions or need further assistance with your local efforts to oppose the Genographic Project (see contact details below).  We would appreciate receiving copies of any resolutions that are passed or other local efforts that successfully oppose the Genographic Project.  Thank you for your continuing efforts to protect the human rights of Indigenous peoples from exploitative research.


                                                                        Debra Harry
                                                                        Executive Director