Indian tribe buries blood samples taken by US researchers

2015-04-05 20:35
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Rio de Janeiro - A remote tribe of Yanomami Indians living in the Brazilian rainforest have buried thousands of blood samples that were taken from community members by US researchers in the 1960s, according to a report on Sunday.

A video published on G1, the website of Brazilian newspaper Globo, shows extracts of a burial ritual with the Yamomamis, who emptied the contents of 2 693 blood vials into a sacred hole as a way of honouring the spirits.

Members of the remote tribe are seen dressed in body paint and are adorned with feathers, but wear rubber gloves as they handle the blood.

The ceremony took place on Friday in a remote village a short flight from Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state, on the border with Venezuela.

A US anthropologist and geneticist collected the blood in the 1960s, apparently without clear permission.

According to media reports at the time, the researchers had promised tribe members they were taking the blood to gather information about diseases affecting the indigenous people.

But the blood sat in US research freezers for decades. In 2002, the Yanomami requested the repatriation of the blood.

The blood came from the United States on March 26 as a result of an agreement with the University of Pennsylvania and Brazilian authorities.

Thirty people whose blood was taken are still alive, and 15 of them were present at the ritual.

During the ceremony, the Yanomami first privately mourned their dead. Then guests were allowed to attend the ceremony where Indian spiritual leaders inhaled a long blowpipe of "yakoana," a powder made from the sap of a tree which connects them to the spirit world.

The blood was then poured in the hole and offerings made to the spirits.

Read more on:    brazil  |  us

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