Frequently Asked Questions

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Last Updated August 23, 2023


What data or information does Local Contexts collect?

The Local Contexts Hub is not a data repository. The Hub provides a means of distributing Notices and Labels to multiple parties. Communities, institutions, and researchers determine what information is shared. For more information, see our Privacy Policy and Indigenous Data Sovereignty Agreement.

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Why does Local Contexts use the term “Traditional Knowledge”?

Local Contexts relies upon the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for its definition of Traditional Knowledge: the “knowledge, know-how, skills and practices that are developed, sustained and passed on from generation to generation within a community, often forming part of its cultural or spiritual identity.”

While we recognize the interchangeability of the terms “Traditional Knowledge” and “Indigenous knowledge,” we use Traditional Knowledge as it is used in international legal contexts and is inclusive for communities that may more readily identify as local communities. Read more about our use of “community” in the question Who owns a community’s Labels? below.

Do I need permission to use the Labels?

Labels are for use by Indigenous communities and local organizations. Communities can apply your Labels within your own community or in external institutions or repositories through the Hub. You will need to register on the Local Contexts Hub to customize and apply your Labels. Read more about the Hub on our Getting Started on the Hub page.

Who owns a community’s Labels?

Indigenous Peoples retain ownership, control, and governance over their unique suite of customized Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Biocultural (BC) Labels developed on the Hub. This includes exclusive decision-making and control over how and with whom the unique community customized suite of Labels is shared with.

A community’s customized suite of Labels is shared with institutions and individual researchers under an exclusive license for use in institutional content management systems, information infrastructures, catalog records, databases, data repositories, and publications where appropriate. Other uses will need to be approved by each community as needed.

For more information, see our Indigenous Data Sovereignty Agreement.

How long does it take to develop Labels?

A community’s customization of the TK and BC Labels is a collaborative process. How long this will take depends on how many Labels a community would like to develop and the community’s process for customization. Each community has their own way to select, customize, and apply their set of Labels, so Labels might take a few weeks or a few months to be selected, developed, and approved depending on the community governance processes and structures. Some communities have established a committee responsible for the Labels, while others propose Labels to Tribal Councils or Boards for review.

You do not need to customize all the available TK or BC Labels. Communities often start with a set of one to five Labels to start. We recommend joining the ENRICH Indigenous Community Network, an online group, to learn how others have gone through this process.

Can the TK and BC Labels be used together?

Yes. The TK and BC Labels were designed to be used separately and/or together.

What is the difference between a Label and a Notice?

Labels are for use by Indigenous communities and local organizations to clarify their rights and the nature of their relationship to collections or data. Label text can be customized by the community and translated.

Notices are for use by researchers and institutions to identify Indigenous rights and interests. Notices are not customizable.

In many cases, Notices can be a placeholder until a community/communities apply their Labels.

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Can I use the Notices for my Institution?

The Notices were designed to be applicable to any institution or repository. If you’re interested in using the Notices at your institution, please check the additional resources for getting started, or reach out to the Local Contexts team.

Can I use Notices in a publication?

Yes. Notices have been used in a digital publication, an article about a plant genome, and an article about approaches to archives.

The Notices were developed to make visible existing Indigenous rights and interests that derive from research contexts. Increasingly publishers are supporting greater transparency and integrity in research, and the Notices help do this. If you are interested in using a Notice in a publication, please contact the Local Contexts team with details about your interest.

Can a TK or BC Notice be used without community approval?

Yes. The Notices work to activate researcher and institutional responsibility to identify potential Indigenous rights and interests.

Decolonial research methodologies insist that Indigenous interests should be addressed and included in any research at the first instance. This means that Indigenous peoples are more likely to be connected to the research and its results and derive benefits from it in the future. Adding the Notice, as a first step, opens the space for those rights and interests to be clarified and expanded on by Indigenous communities over time.

What is the difference between a TK Notice and a BC Notice?

The Traditional Knowledge Notice recognizes that there could be cultural rights, protocols, and responsibilities involving traditional knowledge associated with the material. For example, a TK Notice can be used in archives to indicate that there is traditional knowledge embedded in collections. A TK Notice could also be used in publications that draw on Traditional Knowledge. For more, see the question Why does Local Contexts use the term ‘Traditional Knowledge’? above.

The Biocultural Notice recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to define the use of information, collections, data, and digital sequence information generated from the biodiversity and genetic resources associated with their traditional lands, waters, and territories. For example, plant specimens in herbariums could use the Biocultural Notice. A Biocultural Notice could also be used for soil, water, or biodiversity samples.

Can the TK and BC Notice be used together?

Yes. The TK and the BC Notice were designed so that they could be used separately and/or together.

Is there a relationship between the Notices and the FAIR Principles?

Historical Indigenous collections are extremely difficult to find because they are often mis-labeled, misattributed, or have missing information. This makes an ongoing connection to collections by Indigenous peoples and communities a very slow and labor-intensive process. By disclosing Indigenous rights and interests, the Notices help make Indigenous collections and data Findable and Accessible into the future.

How do the Notices operationalize the CARE Principles?

The Notices operationalize the CARE Principles for the Governance of Indigenous Peoples Data.

Specifically, they help researchers and institutions make clear and visible Indigenous rights as a standard research responsibility. By connecting Indigenous peoples to research conducted on Indigenous lands and waters, the Notices also increase capacity for Indigenous peoples to derive collective benefit from this research.

The Notices support the application of Labels which reflect Indigenous ethics and protocols of engagement, collaboration and partnership. The Notices create the pathway for Indigenous authority using the Labels to be included in historical and future collections, samples, and data.

For more information about how the the application of the CARE Principles are supported by Local Contexts, see the following articles:

What is the difference between the Notices and the Labels?

The Labels are an intervention for Indigenous communities and local organizations to clarify their rights and express more precisely the nature of their relationship to collection or data.

The Notices were developed for researchers and institutions to identify Indigenous rights and interests. The Notices are not customizable.

In many cases, Notices can be a placeholder until a community/communities apply their Labels.

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Why does Local Contexts use the terminology “community”?

Local Contexts uses “community” to inclusively refer to Indigenous Peoples around the world who may be organized and self-governed as Nations, First Nations, Tribes, Confederations, Land Councils, and similar collective groups with ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live, occupy, or from which they have been displaced. In a US context, this includes Native Hawaiian Organizations and Alaskan Native Village Corporations. Following the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Local Contexts recognizes the sovereign right of Indigenous Peoples to self-describe and to determine qualifications for membership and/or citizenship.

We also recognize the varied contexts, histories, and politics around the world that may result in a collective group with ancestral ties to lands to not identify as Indigenous, particularly communities outside settler colonial states. In some parts of Asia and Africa, state governments use the term “ethnic groups” or “ethnic minorities,” while these groups themselves identify as Indigenous.

For this reason, our use of “community” also includes local/traditional communities who are self-governing collectives with intergenerational connections to places, knowledge, and worldviews. Though often referred to together as Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), we recognize that Indigenous Peoples hold distinct collective rights defined in UNDRIP.


How can the Local Contexts tools benefit our community?

All the Local Contexts tools work together to support the proper recognition of Indigenous rights and interests in traditional knowledge and biocultural data. The Labels make clear ongoing Indigenous relationships, obligations, protocols, and responsibilities to information and data as well as expectations for its future use and access. By using the Labels, you can share how collections or data should be treated and used into the future. When applied outside your community, Labels encourage researchers and institutions to adopt new practices about Indigenous data sovereignty, Indigenous cultural authority, and access and control of data and collections.

How can Notices benefit our community?

The Notices are specifically for archives, museums, libraries, universities, and data repositories that are engaging in processes of collaboration and trust building with Indigenous and other marginalized communities who have been excluded and written out of the record through colonial processes of documentation and record keeping. These Notices are useful to communities because they communicate in what capacity institutions are willing to work with Indigenous and local communities. The Notices also can be added to collections or data where there may be Indigenous interests and rights, making it easier to identify these materials.

How does a community know if a Notice has been added to a collection, sample, or data?

Notices are generated in the Local Contexts Hub. Institutions and researchers can notify relevant communities through the Hub. Public Projects can also be shared by its link. You can also see public Projects and Open to Collaborate Notices placed by institutions and researchers in the registry.

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How can Notices benefit our Institution?

Notices are a valuable asset for any university, museum, library, archive, cultural organization, or data repository. They communicate to Indigenous communities and local organizations that an institution is open to collaborate and willing to do the work of going through collections to determine what items need proper cultural attribution and additional community perspectives.

The Notices are a pathway for implementing Labels from Indigenous communities, and can start the process of meaningful collaboration between institutions and communities.

How do we implement Notices at our institution?

Notices are generated through an institution account in the Local Contexts Hub. Read more about the Hub in our Getting Started on the Hub guide.

The requirements for displaying Notices can be found in our Notices Style and Usage Guide.

How do we implement Labels at our institution?

Labels may be applied by Indigenous communities to collections or data at your institution. This will be done through the Local Contexts Hub. For more information about collaborating with Indigenous communities on the Local Contexts Hub, see our Getting Started on the Hub guide.

The requirements for displaying Labels can be found in our Labels Style and Usage Guide.

How do the Labels and Notices fit in with existing copyright, Creative Commons licenses, and

The Labels and Notices are extra-legal mechanisms, meaning that they work outside existing legislation. They have been developed to complement Creative Commons licenses, and Creative Commons and Local Contexts are offering joint training in this area in the future. To use Creative Commons, you need to already be a copyright holder. To use the Labels you do not need to be a copyright holder.

Local Contexts operates at a more specific level than Specially, Local Contexts recognizes Indigenous rights that might otherwise not be recognized as “rights” as defined by Again, Local Contexts works beyond standard copyright interests.

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As an Indigenous researcher, can I use Notices and Labels?

Yes. You can add a Notice at any time during your research. Labels are for use by Indigenous communities and local organizations. As an Indigenous researcher, you may work with your community to develop Labels, which the community can then apply to your research.

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The Hub


Who can register on the Hub?

Hub registration is available to the following people and entities:

  • Indigenous communities (such as First Nations, Tribes, Bands, Iwi, etc.)
  • Cultural and research institutions (such as museums, libraries, archives, universities, research institutions, data repositories, etc.)
  • Researchers (an individual who carries out academic or scientific research independently or in an institution)

Individuals can register and create or join multiple accounts. For more about these account types, see the question below: What type of account should I create or join?

What type of account should I create or join: community, institution, or researcher?

A community account is for community entities or community representatives, such as Cultural Department, Tribal and Historical Preservation Officers, Community Center, Preservation Office, Community Library, Archive, Museum, Land Council or another community entity. A community account can customize Labels, create Projects, and apply Labels on Projects. A community account may receive notifications about Notices that institutions or researchers have placed to disclose a community interest in collections, items, samples, or data.

An institution account is for a cultural or research institution, such as archive, library, museum, historical society, gallery, data repository, or university, that is generating or stewarding Indigenous collections or data. An institution account can create Projects, apply Notices and notify Indigenous communities about these Projects. Multiple staff members can join an institution account.

A researcher account is for individual researchers. Like an institution account, researchers can also create Projects, apply Notices, and notify Indigenous communities about these Projects. Every researcher account is only for one person, while an institution account is for multiple staff members.


What are the different account responsibilities within the Hub?

There are three account roles for members in community and institution accounts: Administrators, editors, and viewers. Administrators are responsible for managing membership and customizing Labels and Projects. Editors are responsible for customizing Labels and Projects. Viewers can see activity happening within the account, but cannot interact.

Can I remove members from my community or institution account?

Yes. You can remove a member in your account on the account’s Members tab.

Can I invite others to my researcher account?

Researcher accounts are for individuals. Unlike community and institution accounts, others cannot join a researcher account. You can have multiple accounts — for example, an individual can be a member of their community’s account and have a researcher account. Individuals with researcher accounts can collaborate with others by adding them as a contributor to a Project within the Hub.


Who can see my profile? Who can see my account? What information is visible?

Individual user profiles are not visible. Accounts and basic information are visible on the Local Contexts Registry. By default, researcher accounts are not visible in the registry, but can be made visible in your researcher account settings. Within the registry, contact information is not visible to the public or registered Hub users. Contact information added to Projects and Labels will be visible wherever those Projects and Labels are accessed, which can be limited based on the Project visibility settings and where the Labels have been applied.

What is the difference between User Settings and Account Settings?

The settings on your My Profile page is where you can update your personal information, such as your name, email, affiliations, and password. Administrators of a community or institution account, or the creator of a researcher account, can click on Settings in an account to update that account’s description, image, and main contact.


If I update a Label, will previous versions be available in my account?

Previous versions of customized Labels are available on each Label page, accessed on the Labels tab of your community account.

If my community has existing Labels, how do I add them to my community account on the Hub?

Existing Labels can be added to the Hub by following the “How to customize Labels” process on the Working with Labels page. Please reach out to the Local Contexts team at if you need any assistance adding existing Labels.


If my institution has existing Notices, how do I enter them on the Hub?

The TK, BC, and Attribution Incomplete Notices are generated through Projects on the Hub. To add existing Notices to the Hub, members of institution and researcher accounts can create a Project on the Project page of their account.

To add an existing Open to Collaborate Notice, go to the Notices tab in your account and click “Add Link” on the Open to Collaborate Notice.

You may wish to review the requirements for displaying Notices in our Labels Style and Usage Guide. For more information about how to use the Hub to generate Notices, see our Getting Started on the Hub guide.


Can Projects be edited? Will the original version of a Project be available after editing?

Projects can be edited by the Project creator. While the complete information about a Project will not be available, a record of when edits were made can be found on the Project page under Project Activity. If you wish to retain a record of a Project before editing, you can download the Project PDF under Project Actions.

Can I see other projects on the Hub?

Yes. You can see public Projects on each account’s page in the Registry. Public Projects can also be shared outside the Hub through its link.

What does “No Labels Pending” mean for my Project?

Community accounts can select the “No Labels Pending” status when the community is not interested in applying a Label. This decision could be for many reasons and should be respected.


Will there be software updates and what will be the frequency?

October 2021 is the soft launch of Version One (v1) of the Local Contexts Hub. Our developers release regular updates to the Hub with major version updates planned for the future. For more about these updates, see our changelog, blog, maintenance schedule, and subscribe to our newsletter. Thank you for your interest, feedback, contributions, and patience as we continue to refine this tool in order to make it as useful and effective as possible.

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Application Program Interface (API)

What is an API?

A RESTful API (or application programming interface) allows two computers to communicate with each other over the internet. In order to gather the information from the Local Contexts Hub to publish on your site, a request needs to be made through the API. Once a request has been made, the API then sends the corresponding data to your site instantly.

Anyone can connect to the API, no matter their skill level. For more information, visit our API Implementation Guide.

Are There Unique Identifiers Assigned To Notices, Labels, or Projects?

Unique IDs are assigned to Labels and Projects created in the Hub. Notices are not assigned a unique ID.

To find the unique ID for a Label, go to that Label page in your community account. The 32-character string at the end of the URL is the Label’s unique ID.

To find the unique ID for a Project, look for the Local Contexts Project ID on the Project page. For more information about Local Contexts Project IDs, see our API guide.

Is Support available to support the technical implementation of Notices and Labels into systems?

An API Implementation Guide is available on the Local Contexts website. Documentation on the Hub’s API can also be found on the API GitHub page.

If you are interested in integrating Local Contexts into a CMS, DAMS, database, or similar as the system’s developer, please contact the Local Contexts team and consider joining our online Technical Implementation Working Group.

If you are interested in integrating Local Contexts into an instance of a CMS, DAMS, database, or similar as a user, your next steps will depend on your ability to customize your system. In the case of proprietary systems, you may need to be in touch with the system’s developer. For systems that you can customize, the API Implementation Guide will be a good starting place and we recommend joining the Technical Implementation Working Group.

What will be the requirements for authentication and use of API keys to access these services?

Currently, there are no API keys required to access the Local Contexts Hub API.

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