The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Studying the evolutionary history of Native North Americans


Anthropology and Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2 Add to calendar

Current and past transgressions of anthropological researchers studying Native Americans have created an environment of uncertainty and mistrust of researchers in indigenous communities. This cynical environment has contributed to a dearth of DNA information from key geographic regions in North America and also a lack of expertise of genomic knowledge among Native American community members. These factors have limited the ability to use DNA variation to infer evolutionary history of Native Americans and have also limited any potential health benefits Native Americans may receive from studies in genomic medicine. To change this environment we have created protocols to help establish trust and create mutually beneficial collaborations between researchers and Native Americans. In addition, we organize a training program to facilitate discussion and learning of genomics for Native American students and community members. Details of our collaborations with First Nation communities in British Columbia and also the SING (Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics) Program are discussed.

The SING Program is funded by NHGRI R25 HG007158-01 and NSF BCS 1025139