She put the rights of the tribe she was studying above her research. In 1997, ethnobotanist Kelly Bannister found that Skeetchestn, a tribe near British Columbia in Western Canada, wanted some more of her time to record their traditional knowledge. This was reason enough for her to reject the offer made by her academic adviser to establish a deal with a drug company for studying potential antimicrobial compounds identified by her research. In 2000, Bannister completed her thesis. However, she gave the tribe time to come out with claims to any compounds that might be commercialised from the 70 plants she had analysed. "I felt that the plant-assay data I had collected would be taken over and used for a purpose not in the best interest of the community," said Bannister. It is only now that she is contributing her research for a programme, Community-University Connections, which aims to help improve research collaborations between indigenous tribes and researchers. The tribe feels Bannister has protected its identity. Its chief, Ron Ignace, alleges that earlier researchers had published their history without their permission. "This time we had someone with high moral fibre who worked with us," he says.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.