Beyond Guarding Ground
A vision for a National Indigenous Cultural Authority
Is there a place for a National Indigenous Cultural Authority to assist Indigenous people assert their rights to their traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expression and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property?
For over 20 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have called for new laws to protect their cultural heritage, the songs, stories, dances, cultural knowledge handed down through the generations. There has been no new laws which recognise the collective ownership of cultural knowledge and traditional cultural expression.
The main rights Indigenous people want are:
the right of prior informed consent
the right to protect against derogatory treatment
the right of attribution
and the right to share in the benefits of the appropriate use of their cultural material.
It is time for Indigenous people to take the lead and set up their own infrastructure using existing intellectual property tools, contracts, trade marks and protocols. A national collective organisation that empowers Aboriginal knowledge holders, communities and local and regional networks could set up a strong infrastructure.