The appropriation of Native American cultural and intellectual property has become commonplace in the United States. At the same time, mainstream, Western cultural/intellectual property laws are inadequate to properly protect traditional Indigenous knowledge. To address this problem, scholars have begun to advocate for a three-tiered system, in which, in addition to national and international legal protections, tribal laws would play a fundamental role in the fight against cultural appropriation. Alas, few Native American tribes explicitly address cultural and/or intellectual property rights in any of their legal instruments. This is especially true with respect to intangible intellectual property, such as traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). In an attempt to fill this gap, this Article aims to distill both historical and contemporary Indigenous “best practices” in protecting traditional knowledge into a model tribal code that could be adopted by various American Indian nations, with appropriate tribe-specific modifications.



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