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Research conducted within indigenous areas

This is a guide on how to obtain the Informed Consent Letter for an indigenous area/Comarca (Written authorization on letterhead, duly signed and seal stamped by the indigenous group where research will take place)

(For exclusive use on scientific, academic, and educational work on Indigenous areas)


Some Indigenous areas are divided in Comarcas. Check if the area you selected falls within it or not.

  1. Due to the complexity of the authorizations, we recommend you pay a first visit to the area and do a preliminary personal contact with the indigenous authorities before any permission or authorization is requested.
  2. You should obtain permission from each of the communities’ chiefs where research is scheduled to be conducted.

Requirements may vary depending on the community. Different arrangements may be necessary. It is recommended that the request of Informed Consent Letter should be based on:

  1. Consultation at all time with the community chief.
  2. Use of onsite translators.
  3. Respect to the culture and community.
  4. Protection and respect to their knowledge and life style.
  5. Intellectual property, confidentiality and access to the final investigation.
  6. Access to data and information from the chief or members of the community.
  7. Expectation of the study.
  8. Develop work methodology with the community chief or special members.
  9. Analysis of information.

For work in Guna Yala, you should contact directly and in person the Kuna Congress Office, located in Balboa, Panama City. We can provide you the address and telephone upon request ( To apply, you MUST include the following information/documents in your application package:

  1. Research Proposal to conduct research within indigenous areas duly completed in Spanish (For your convenience we can provide a list of independent translators that you may contact directly).
  2. Once your project is approved by the indigenous group, you must obtain the Informed Consent Letter on letterhead, duly signed and seal stamped by each of the indigenous groups/communities where research will take place.

NOTE: If working within and indigenous area, a MiAmbiente , INAC , or MICI permit requests MUST include the Informed Consent Letter from those groups. INAC permit requests may also require you to comply with Smithsonian Directive 606 “Research Involving Human Subjects.” Overflights will require authorization from AAC.

NOTE: Please plan to obtain your Informed Consent Letter at least three (3) months in advance of expected arrival at STRI.

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