Indians End Blood Feud

The University of Arizona has agreed to pay $700,000 to 41 Havasupai tribal citizens to settle claims that the university misused DNA samples given by tribe members over a decade ago. 

In 1989, some members of the small Grand Canyon-based Havasupai Indian tribe gave their blood to university researchers in order to participate in diabetes study. Tribal members later learned that samples of their DNA, without their knowledge or approval, had been analysed further, and played a key role in research conducted on schizophrenia, inbreeding, and one study even supported the Bering Strait Land Bridge theory. 

In addition to monetary compensation and returning blood samples, both ASU and ABOR formally apologized to the Havasupai tribe for the alleged wrong doing. 

Other important provisions of the agreement included a promise to collaborate with the Indians on various issues including health, education, economic development and engineering planning.

Also, a third party funding for a health clinic and high school is in the offing. 

Among the immediate gains will be tele-medicine services for Havasupai citizens, and scholarships for tribal members at ASU, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. 

The tribe had originally asked for $50 million in its pre-litigation claim, and individuals who filed the other separate lawsuit sought $10 million. 

Carletta Tilousi, the lead plaintiff in the case and a tribal council woman, said she hopes the settlement will make a statement on behalf of all indigenous people that their cultures should be respected, not analysed by scientists.

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