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Does Your Tribe Have Policies to Address These Kinds of Situations?

Cultural and Historical Research

  • Does your tribe have a process to authorize, monitor, and control researchers who want to study your cultural lifeways, language, plants, foods, history, songs, designs, or interview elders?
  • Does the tribe maintain ownership and control of the data derived from such research?
  • Should data derived from your traditional knowledge be copyrighted by the researcher?

Medical or Health-Related Research

  • Has your tribe been approached by researchers who want to study the medical records of your tribal members?
  • Is the tribe always notified before they are allowed to access and study that information?
  • Is the individual’s right to give their individual prior informed consent respected before any access to their health records is allowed?
  • If a researcher wants biological samples (blood, hair, tissue, genetic material, or cell lines) from your community members does your tribe have a process to control how those samples are used, for how long they may be used, and for what purposes?
  • Can anyone else use those samples for any other research without the consent of the tribe or the individual?
  • Do you have process to review and approve findings before they are released to the public or the media?
  • Have you pre-determined who owns the data derived from such research?
  • If biological samples are returned to your tribe after research ends, or for any other reason, does your tribe have a process for their return?

Traditional Knowledge, Cultural Property Protection, and Intellectual Property Rights

  • Are there medicinal plants, unique seeds, or other plants in your environment that might be of interest to bioprospectors, ethnobotonists, or pharmaceutical companies?
  • Did you know that patents are being granted to companies for medicinal plants, seeds, and human genetic materials taken from indigenous peoples and lands?
  • Do you believe that any life form (plant, animal, human, microorganism) or cells taken from them should be patented?
  • Would commercializing life forms be consistent, or inconsistent, with your cultural values?
  • Do you understand the concepts of “benefit sharing”?
  • Do you agree with the statement that your traditional knowledge is part of the common heritage of mankind?

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