The COVID-19 pandemic has inequitably impacted Indigenous communities in the United States. In this emergency state that highlighted existing inadequacies in US government and tribal public health infrastructures, many tribal nations contracted with commercial entities and other organization types to conduct rapid diagnostic and antibody testing, often based on proprietary technologies specific to the novel pathogen. They also partnered with public-private enterprises on clinical trials to further the development of vaccines. Indigenous people contributed biological samples for assessment and, in many cases, broadly consented for indefinite use for future genomics research. A concern is that the need for crisis aid may have placed Indigenous communities in a position to forego critical review of data use agreements by tribal research governances. In effect, tribal nations were placed in the unenviable position of trading short-term public health assistance for long-term, unrestricted access to Indigenous genomes that may disempower future tribal sovereignties over community members' data. Diagnostic testing, specimen collection, and vaccine research is ongoing; thus, our aim is to outline pathways to trust that center current and future equitable relationship-building between tribal entities and public-private interests. These pathways can be utilized to increase Indigenous communities' trust of external partners and share understanding of expectations for and execution of data protections. We discuss how to navigate genomic-based data use agreements in the context of pathogen genomics. While we focus on US tribal nations, Indigenous genomic data sovereignties relate to global Indigenous nations regardless of colonial government recognition.
- American Indian/Alaska Native
- Indigenous data sovereignty
- broad consent
- data use agreements
- vaccine research
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health