Yanomami Tribe buries blood samples studied without consent

Yanomami tribal members hold a burial ceremony for the samples. Photo by Estêvão Benfica / ISA - Instituto Socioambiental

The Yanomami Tribe in Brazil held a burial ceremony for nearly 2,700 blood samples that were returned to the community after a long fight.

The samples were taken during the 1960s. They were subjected to research and other studies without the consent of the tribal individuals.

"“These Americans robbed our blood. They did not say anything in our language about the tests they were going to do. Nobody knew that they were going to use our blood to do research," tribal leader Davi Kopenawa said told Survival International.

The samples were held by educational institutions in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Georgia. The National Cancer Institute, a federal agency, also held some samples.

Kopenawa only learned about the samples after reading Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon, a book from 2000 that raised questions about the methods of Napoleon Chagnon, a controversial anthropologist who spent time among the Yanomami.

Get the Story:
Brazil: Blood samples returned to Yanomami after nearly 50 years (Survival International 4/13)

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