An indigenous scientist on CRISPR ethics, genetics, and how to #decolonize DNA research:
"To decolonize DNA is not anti-science, and it's not a rewriting of the fundamentals of DNA. One thing I always say is that Indigenous peoples are not anti-science; we're anti-exploitation. Science, as much as we like to idealize it, is not purely objective. There’s subjectivity in the types of questions that we choose to pursue, the types of questions our agencies fund. And then also the decisions that we make in terms of who to include and who not to include in studies also creates subjectivity. And also how those results are interpreted. Because if they don't properly take into account all the historical societal factors at play, then we are ignoring some key, potentially colonial factors that relate to health.
Alcoholism is something that's really charged and is an example. There have been over 230-plus publications in PubMed alone that try to look to see why Native Americans are supposedly genetically at greater risk for alcoholism. But then that totally ignores the history of harm that has been perpetrated upon us.
Type 2 diabetes has been heavily studied in Indigenous peoples in the southwest and also in American Samoa. And a huge portion of this narrative for a long period of genetic history has been that we are genetically predisposed to this disease. But this disease didn’t exist in our communities until very recently. So there's these other factors like a forced diet that was imposed upon us; forcible change to our ways of living and our ways of providing food for ourselves; a removal of our lands that doesn't allow us to pursue our traditional forms of agriculture; an imposition of a westernized form of diet. These are like actual contributors of health that are being overly conflated with genetics, when in reality there could be other social, cultural, colonial factors at play."
Melg'puguasit, we stand with Wet'suwet'en. Decolonize: "Traditional Ecological Knowledge" (TEK) is the only thing that can help humans as a colonized planet continues to sink deeper into the chaos and destruction of broken, inequitable, and faulty systems that value money over Earth's many forms of life. European words and languages and accounting systems don't belong on Turtle Island.
We encourage you to join us on a better path as we build and participate in a more Ecological Democracy that includes #AllThePeople as envisioned by Mark Charles, a Navajo Nation member running as the Independent candidate for President. #LivingWalls, not border walls.