Author Topic: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"  (Read 26160 times)

Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2007, 02:20:51 pm »
Coffee drinker
If you really think finding alternative commercial uses for some of the culturally sensitive Native plants in Ric's area , is the only way of creating an economy , that isn't relying on large scale mining and logging  , and if you really believe that the economic activity generated by marketing a few contraversial "products ", can replace the money people make in these enviromentally damaging industries , and marketing these will put an end to the destructive logging and mining , I agree with you .

But I think there are many non contraversial products that could be developed , so there is many other ways . I also doubt the raw resources those big companies are after, will go out of demand any time soon , so I would guess the big companies are still going to go in there and do their damage,  whether people are making some money harvesting traditional medicines or not  .

It seems to me that once you get into thinking it is OK to commercialize some parts of traditional culture that some Elders say shouldn't be commercialized , you have made some very important decisions . You've decided some Spiritual traditions are less important than others , and you have decided that if some Elders or traditional people don't agree with something being commercialized it is Ok to ignore them . If it is left to individual opinion and desire ,it is just a matter of time before someone else comes along , and decides it is OK to commercialize the next part of traditions Elders say should not be commercialized .   

As I say , I am not sure what it is Ric is doing , or if he has the undivided support of Elders in his area as he claims . There doesn't seem to be any way of verifying this , if all the consultation has been private . Whatever Ric's specific situation may , or may not be , generally speaking , if there are Elders who say something shouldn't be commercially developed , those are the Elders I will listen to and support . I don't see how pretending those Elders don't exist , and never existed , is in any way "respectful" .

I also think , in principal , that people who are planing to commercialize First Nations IP should have a clear and publicly verifiable mandate to do so , from the Aboriginal community . I don't think just taking peoples word for it that they have this authorization is a practical option .

The questions and problems seem obvious to me , but if I am the only person who is concerned ,
there isn't much more I can do , or should do  ...  Someone else can deal with this if they have concerns . Or not .
« Last Edit: May 07, 2007, 04:15:44 pm by Moma_porcupine »

weheli

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2007, 03:01:14 am »
" We are all children of our Mother Earth, lets love and care about our Mother"
quote ;Munkhbayar
A good article on environmental activists

http://www.indiancountry.com:80/content.cfm?id=1096414989&na=2551
     
                                                                              Weheli

coffee_drinker

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2007, 03:58:42 pm »
As outsiders, it is not up to you, I and any others to be making judgement calls on how a Indian community chooses to preserve their lands and resources. Instead we should lend support to their causes in helping preserve what is sacred to them.
I was taught be elders, not only are plants sacred, but so is water, rocks, air and all that is created.
The spectrum of what is sacred is much larger than a specific plant or two. To view it this way is having shudders on our eyes and not seeing the whole picture as it was meant to be seen.
That is like living in one state and going to another state to vote because I don't like what the other state is doing.
Many Indian communities have dealt with their water supplies poisoned, their eco balance shifted due to stripping of their lands. Many have been chased off their lands and in some cases even killed by these outsiders.
So I have to ask myself this question, is a plant that elders tell me is sacred, is it still sacred if it has been poisoned by these outsiders. I would have to answer myself with a no.
A metaphor I use for myself, how do you get rid of a weed? Do you pull it at the base or  dig down and pull it from the roots? There are many weeds among the sacred.

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2007, 04:36:39 pm »
Tansi;

I have attempted to relate how Culture is in every part of our life, not just in our attendance at Ceremony or able to be separated from other activities, in our lives.  The selective approach to what is considered Sacred, is only one area of this.

Tomorrow, I will leave to attend an international conference related to Non Timber Forest Products.  I will be networking with people who have used this approach to creating benefits from NTFP products, from many regions of the world.

For those who wish to only be argumentative, nothing that Aboriginal people do to earn a living, using money will satisfy, but we will work at ensuring that Aboriginal people are represented in excercising control of which plants, from our region are incorporated into this form of socio-economic initiative as well as being in a position in which we will be the ones to benefit from this activity.

I will advise of what I learn, when I return.

Ric





Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #34 on: May 11, 2007, 02:38:49 pm »
Obviously an outsider should not tell a Native community what to do , within their own traditional territory. Even if there are divisions within a community it seems best left to the community to sort out , as long as the activities remain within the traditional territory of that community .

But it gets more complicated when shared cultural images , songs , ceremonies or items that are sensitive , are marketed in communities or in adjoining territiories where a substantial number of Native people , with the same cultural practices , feel this is offensive.   

I found an article about Aboriginal Cultural Tourism which talks about the process of community consultation, and although this is about IP and tourism , the discussions about community consultation seem applicable to other situations .

http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:oxHLezBpvwYJ:www.patrimoinecanadien.gc.ca/documents/fpt/publications/pdfs
/CrossCulturalUnderstanding_e.pdf+Elders+%22cultural+tourism%22+Aboriginal+Canada&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=7&gl=ca


Determining Community Boundaries
Quote
All reports indicate that one of the most important steps to ensuring long-term sustainability of the industry with the least impact on the community and culture being portrayed is to determine in advance what each community is willing to share with visitors. Protect what is sacred. A community meeting, organized by the cultural centre or band office, can bring concerns out in the open. If the local community is strongly opposed to sharing a sacred site with the public, or does not feel comfortable with tourists wandering around the village, this needs to be discussed at the beginning. A plan for protecting certain heritage sites, or restricting access to certain parts of the community will ease the fears of wary members (Hager, 2004).

Of course, with Aboriginal communities across Canada, this consultation must include the keepers of our culture, the elders, in order to benefit future generations (con...)
Quote
3.3 Community Consultation and Support
One of the most difficult elements of ACT is that it portrays and shares something that does not
belong to any one person or organization the culture belongs to all the people.
To be successful in both the development and the delivery of ACT, it is integral that the community be consulted. Within the AC, a number of community consultation processes were utilized to gain support, receive guidance on the programs and messaging, as well as create a feeling of ownership through the process.
However, one important element tied all of them together- all AC members had consulted the
community and then accepted the boundaries that were established on what could be shared
with the visitors and what was to remain sacred to the community. In all cases, the elders of the community were engaged in the process to set the direction of what could be shared in the context of tourism. (con.. )
Quote
The ways in which the communities were consulted on the content and delivery of the cultural message was as diverse as the communities themselves - proving that there is no cookie cutter approach that can be implemented in all Aboriginal communities. Some organizations began with informal elders circles and focus groups while others emphasized that it was integral to tie into the community planning process. (con... )

Quote
However, it can be difficult to gain consensus through a community consultation process, as all elders do not agree on what is sacred and what can be shared. In some regions, the ACT sites are developed on sacred lands and the programming may share elements of sacred teachings
and ceremony, while other communities have been asked by the elders to exclude all ceremonial and spiritual elements from the programming. (con ...)
(my bold )
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As this article mentions , often within a community there is disagreement on what it is OK to commercialize .

An example of these conflicts is mentioned in the Aboriginal Cultural Tourism project below ,that was funded by the Canadian Government in New Brunswick
(This is a 152 page thesis , and takes forever to load )

http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape10/PQDD_0016/MQ47680.pdf

"Seeds Blossoms and in Bloom":Explorations of identity and plurality of meanings in growth of cultural tourism and the Aboriginal Heritage Gardens " by Dorthy Hache'

Page 78

Quote
A notable example of the points of diversity of sentiments in development is the simultaneous collision and convergence in the relationship between political leaders on reserves and traditionalists . They are often at odds . Traditionalists are prone to label band councils as "creatures of the imperialists and elected councillers as patsies for a system that undermines the old ways when everyone had a say on every issue " ( Cayo 1997 , July 5 )

This difference comes out occasionally in my interviews but the denigeration is not based on chief and councils political identity and role in the community ; rather , the concerns are whether  the planners and political leaders will respect "tradition" in their development initiatives . Many political leaders are more concerned with deficit control and economic issues (con..)

Page 97

Quote
A final area of contention , and perhaps one of the most divisive I have observed thus far is the whole question of whether spiritual  items can be bought and sold . This debate is inherent in the commodification of culture but it implicates the heritage Garden directly since it's main feature and market strength is the wide array of pharmacopeia traditionally used by the Mi'kmaw . It is no coincidence that the product being offered by the Heritage Garden is concurrent with an increased interest in herbology and homeopathic medicines by both scientists and lay people . Not only is there an enviromental challenge in the growth and use of these herbs and natural medicinal plants but the demand for these products is both socio-economic and spiritual . It was noted earlier that divisions exists between Mi'kmaq traditionalists and politicians and it is on this very issue of whether one can sell traditional medicine or not that their main differences occur . Selling sweetgrass is considereded taboo by many traditionalists but it is happening and inevitible divisions result . (con ..)
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As I understand it , ownership means people have a right to benifit from , and protect what is owned, and make the choices how this will be managed to insure sustained benifits . Native culture is owned collectively and also by future generations .

What sort of community process needs to occur to make sure all the owners are represented in the decision making process ?

If there is not a consensus within the Native community about how to protect culture , who gets to choose ?

Who's choice should be given more weight, the choice of people wanting to make money , or the choice of people who are distressed to see something they hold Sacred reduced to a commercial commoditiy and who are concerned for cultultural preservation ?

These are important questions and they have not been answered . I don't think the people who ask these questions should be discredited as "just wanting to agrue " .

It would probably be a more constructive discussion , if we could stay with general principals.

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #35 on: May 13, 2007, 09:47:35 pm »
Tansi;

Having just attended an international conference, entitled "Tradition to Technology" I was able to ensure that the modern nutraceutical industry and pharmaclogical industry is aware of the need to address Intellectual Property Rights concerns, when they work toward including Traditionally used plants, in modern methods of production of a variety of products.

Only one of the participating businesses have included this, in their work, in Alaska.  Researchers, from a number of Universities, also agreed that there must be meaningful co-operation with Aboriginal people, in order to be able to more fully understand the Traditional uses of a variety of plants, including blueberries, in their research into finding ways of incorporating this knowledge, into creating new products for the market place.

Since there is a great deal of work being done, by industry, to incorporate Traditionally used plants, from the Traditional territories of numerous Aboriginal people, this will be interesting to watch.  I am hoping that there will be Aboriginal people and businesses, involved in this, in order to be able to share in the benefits of the rapidly growing market demands on natural products and nutraceuticals.

I was able to speak at length, with two other Aboriginal participants, also from Saskatchewan, who attended.  We all agreed that this industrial use of plants, from our Cultures, is going to continue and that Aboriginal people must become proactive, in ensuring that we are included in these efforts, in order to address various Cultural considerations, including Intellectual Property Rights.

Ric

frederica

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #36 on: May 13, 2007, 11:05:37 pm »
Sounds good. These plants have been in use for a long time by non-Indian. It's time the Nations are included. frederica

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #37 on: May 15, 2007, 03:28:29 pm »
Tansi;

During the past week,as I attended many workshops related to research and development in the Nutraceutical and Pharmaceutical fields, incorporating naturally grown and cultivated plants, I was pleased to hear that numerous products, such as blueberries, have been seen to have more health benefits when they are grown naturally, as opposed to being cultivated.

While I was one of a very few people, in attendance, who did not have a Ph.d, I felt that my concerns were Respectfully heard and taken into consideration, by the many research scientists and business people, also in attendance.  It was made very clear that these industries will continue to work with many of the plants that our people used Traditionally, in many ways related to health and healing.

I continue to believe that, especially since our plants are going to continue to be used, in business applications, we have the opportunity to more fully participate in co-operative efforts to ensure that our Cultural knowledge, Traditional values and Intellectual Property Rights are incorporated into modern developments.

Ric

 


weheli

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #38 on: May 15, 2007, 04:00:44 pm »
From Spokane:

http://www.indiancountry.com:80/content.cfm?id=1096414961&na=2551

                                                                             Weheli

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #39 on: May 15, 2007, 05:49:04 pm »
Tansi;

Thank you for the above article from "Indian Country", Weheli.  This is one positive example of what we are working toward.

My wife, an educator, always says that a full belly is a prerequisite for learning, so she has worked at supporting food programs in the First Nation schools, where she works.  We have recognized the socio-economic impacts of poverty and exclusion in many of our region's communities.  By developing businesses and co-operatives, using Traditional knowledge and plants that are found in our region, we believe that we will be able to involve Traditional land users in creating economic benefits, using their Traditional knowledge and understanding of Cultural sensitivity, as well.

From May 30-June 1, 2007, there will be a "North American Indigenous Food Symposium," in Saskatoon, Sask, which will also address issues related to IP Rights and how we can protect and preserve our Traditional foods, while finding ways of sharing them with others.

Ric



« Last Edit: May 15, 2007, 08:09:59 pm by Ric_Richardson »

Offline debbieredbear

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #40 on: May 15, 2007, 05:56:45 pm »
Ric,

Have you seen this site on traditional foods and medicines?

http://www.cwis.org

You can sign up for their email newsletter. The man behind it is Cowlitz and I have met him. He is great! His name is Rudy Ryser. The woman behind the site, Dr.Leslie Korn, is his wife.

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: 'Who Owns Native Culture?"
« Reply #41 on: May 15, 2007, 08:00:54 pm »
Tansi;

Thank you, Debbie!  I have registered for the newsletter, which I am sure will be a welcome addition to our rapidly growing "Library."

It was good to see the late George Manuel Honoured in the website, as he was instrumental in the formation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, when he was Chief of the Neskonlith First Nation, in B.C..

I was fortunate to have been involved, when a representative of the Aborigine people of Australia, came to Neskonlith to Honour his memory.

Ric