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 process and diversity continues in a reciprocal relationship 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
its minute parts, western science and technologies diminishes its identity as a
precious and unique life form, and alters its relationship to the natural
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 consequences.
Therefore, we the Indigenous Peoples and Organizations participating in this
meeting from North, Central and South America reject all programs involving
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 its smallest
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
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 destruction.
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
CONIC Consortium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Council of Athabaskan Tribal Governments, Stevens Village, Alaska
Enowkin Center, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
Independent Traditional Seminole Nation of Florida, Immokalee, Florida
Indigenous Environmental Network, National Office, Bemidji, Minnesota
Indigenous Environmental Network, Oklahoma Region, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Indigenous Peoples Alliance, Phoenix, Arizona
Indigenous Peoples Support Network, London, Ontario, Canada
Indigenous Womens 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 Peoples Information Network, British Columbia, Canada
Tonantzin Land Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Tonatierra, Phoenix, Arizona
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