Project In Focus

Penobscot Nation | Education in Intellectual Property and Tribal Governance For Negotiating With Cultural Institutions

The Penobscot Nation, in collaboration with New York University, has received a IMLS grant to deliver intellectual property support and governance to 12 tribes in tailored workshops over the next two years.

For the full project abstract, please see here.

To get in touch about the project or to inquire about hosting an IP workshop in your community, please contact James Francis of the Penobscot Nation at

Projects and Collaborations

Communities and institutions working with Local Contexts


Musqueam First Nation

Local Contexts is working together with the Musqueam First Nation on developing the TK Labels for use with their library collections and creating Musqueam versions of these labels for the Musqueam Digital Heritage Platform.

Sq’éwlets ( Scowlitz ) Community (Sto:lo First Nation)

Local Contexts is working together with the Sq’éwlets ( Scowlitz ) Community on incorporating TK Labels, as well as Sq’éwlets versions of the TK Labels which are also translated into Halq’emeylem for a Virtual Museum of Canada exhibit about Sq’éwlets culture, past and present.

Karuk Tribe

Local Contexts is working together with the Karuk Tribe to design intellectual property strategies with agreements for researchers; to develop transfer of ownership forms for returned cultural heritage; and to tailor Traditional Knowledge Labels to the specific needs of the Karuk People for use with their digital heritage collections at the Sípnuuk Digital Library, Archives and Museum.

Sto:lo First Nation

Local Contexts is working with the Sto:lo First Nation to develop a project to test the TK Labels with the Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre for their archives, cultural heritage materials and curriculum materials.

Penobscot Nation

Local Contexts and the Penobscot Nation’s Department of Cultural and Historic Preservation are working together to develop new strategies that enable the further recognition of tribal rights and responsibilities to valuable Penobscot cultural heritage.  Together we are exploring the possibility of the TK Labels to support the complicated issues of access, ownership and informed sharing critical for the preservation of the Penobscot language.

Plateau Peoples' Web Portal

The Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal, a collaboration between the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the Confederated Tribes Of The Colville Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation and Native Programs at Washington State University, is implementing the TK Labels throughout the Portal’s Mukurtu CMS site.

Passamaquoddy Nation

Local Contexts is working with the Passamaquoddy Tribe to assign TK Labels to the Fewkes recordings of the Passamaquoddy people that currently reside in the Library of Congress. The Passamaquoddy Tribe serves the Passamaquoddy people who live in what is now called Maine. The Tribe creates cultural and educational programs to support community members, promote traditional values within the community, and provide a full spectrum of civic programs to ensure the well-being and welfare of the Passamaquoddy People.

Tribal Museums, Archives, Libraries

Ziibiwing Center for Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways – We are working together with the Ziibiwing Center to develop a workshop for Michigan tribes on strategies for protecting intellectual and cultural property and how to utilize TK Labels.


Mukurtu (MOOK-oo-too) is a grassroots project aiming to empower communities to manage, share, narrate, and exchange their digital heritage in culturally relevant and ethically-minded ways. We are committed to maintaining an open, community-driven approach to Mukurtu’s continued development. Our first priority is to help build a platform that fosters relationships of respect and trust.


SCALAR and the University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia is partnering with SCALAR and the Washington State University Press to implement and offer TK Labels for digital publishing. 


Indigenous Friends App

The Indigenous Friends App is a mobile application that seeks to create a safe space for Indigenous Youth (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) in Canada. It has three main objectives: create Indigenous Networks between Indigenous Youth, access to Traditional Indigenous Counseling, and access to Information about the available resources in the community.


TK Implementation at the Abbe Museum

The Abbe Museum, located in Bar Harbor, Maine, is partnering with Local Contexts and Past Perfect to integrate the TK Labels into the Abbe Museum’s content management system. We are working with the four Wabanaki communities (The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy) to implement the labels. This is a two-year project that has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Native American Rights Fund

Since 1971, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has provided legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide who might otherwise have gone without adequate representation. NARF has successfully asserted and defended the most important rights of Indians and tribes in hundreds of major cases, and has achieved significant results in such critical areas as tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, natural resource protection, and Indian education. NARF is a non-profit 501c(3) organization that focuses on applying existing laws and treaties to guarantee that national and state governments live up to their legal obligations.


Decision Making

Using the TK Labels requires community decision-making. This is especially the case for cultural material that is not owned individually but should be managed collectively by your local community. The decision-making processes for using these TK Labels should be established before you choose which labels will suit your needs. The TK Labels can also facilitate dialogue about what options are more appropriate for your local context, and what kinds of conversations need to happen before even using or developing the TK Labels. Each family, clan or community will have different processes and frameworks for decision-making. Some communities are in the process of establishing cultural authorities, intellectual property committees, policies, and protocols to help make decisions about a range of Intellectual Property issues facing their community. Depending on history and context, these decision-making processes will also accommodate perspectives from community members who reside in different regions. It’s your decision how and when to use the TK Labels.

Would you like to test the labels?