Statement on Human Remains Research

The Department of Anthropology is increasingly engaged in study and documentation of the history, relationships, and diversity of Indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere. Such work complements decades of skeletal studies, human genetics research, and archeology at the University of Kansas. The University of Kansas is now poised to be a leader in genetic studies of Indigenous peoples.  For ethical, legal, and scientific reasons, research pertaining to Indigenous communities and particularly that utilizing Native American human remains must be done in a thoughtful, humanistic, and ethical manner so as not to harm, alienate, or insult any peoples, including those potentially related to the subjects of study.

We are currently in the process of assembling an advisory panel to help develop protocols for genetic studies and other research pertaining to human remains. Our goal is to have explicit and inclusive involvement of multiple participants and voices on the advisory panel and for these perspectives to help guide the development of our research protocols. Participants will include multiple Native voices, experts in issues pertaining to indigeneity and genetic/biomedical research, and researchers within and outside the Department of Anthropology.  We believe that this guidance from Indigenous experts will help us to establish and maintain ethical research practices at the University of Kansas.

All our research is to be conducted so as to foster mutually beneficial and productive partnerships with Indigenous communities, to combat prejudice and exploitation, and to further the goal of dissolving barriers and distrust between communities and scientists.

--Ad hoc Anthropology research group for bio-archaeological studies

Dennis O’Rourke, Jennifer Raff, Mary Adair, Frederic Sellet, Jack Hofman, and Lauren Norman