This project is an investigation of the implications of research on ancient and contemporary human microbiomes for the social and ancestral identities of indigenous people. It will engage indigenous communities on the U.S. Southern Plains (Apache, Caddo, and Kiowa nations) and in the Andean region of Peru (Aymara, Quechua and Uros-descended communities). Community members will take part in focus groups, individual survey interviews, and public meetings to discuss the ways in which local variations in human microbiomes related to differences in environment, lifestyle and culture may have implications for health disparities, population histories, and social and ancestral identities. Local communities also will be engaged in discussions about how to conduct ethically and culturally appropriate microbiome research using contemporary samples from some members.
This project will advance our understanding of the relationship between social and ancestral identities and biology as well as develop a model for engaging indigenous communities in human microbiome studies. Both those goals will contribute to reducing health disparities in populations with histories of exploitation and economic and political disadvantages.
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