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Copyright at TWU - DRAFT POLICY: Indigenous Knowledge & Intellectual Property

Canadian copyright for academics at TWU

Intellectual Property & Indigenous Traditional Knowledge - Books & Academic Articles

The Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples is not always well served by current copyright, trademark, or Creative Commons laws and practices. Scholars are still exploring the issues of how to ensure that the intellectual property of indigenous peoples is protected in a culturally appropriate way. 

Below are some links to quick searches on traditional knowledge and intellectual property. Clicking on the link will run an advanced search in OneSearch (TWU login required from off-campus) that can then be modified to meet the needs of the researcher.


Scholarly Peer-reviewed Articles 

Scholarly Articles with a Canadian Focus

Grey Literature on Intellectual Property & Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

Grey literature, is material published outside the usual academic publishing stream. For example, policies or position papers published by First Nations groups, government documents, etc. 

Here are some search tips to improve your results:

  1. Use quotation marks to do phrase searches, e.g., "First Nations"  "traditional healing"
    • Using "First Nations" helps to limit the results to Canada.
  2. Limit results to PDF files by adding: filetype:pdf
    • Policy documents are typically published as PDFs rather than HTML files, so using this limit improves the quality of the results.
  3. Limit your search to a particular government site. For example, "First Nations" "traditional knowledge" will limit the search to the Canadian federal government site. Adding filetype:pdf will return predominantly more formalized documents. 
    • See this page for more suggestions on searching government domains.


Searching for Academic Information on Traditional Knowledge & Intellectual Property

To find materials on traditional knowledge intellectual property in OneSearch (requires login) or other academic database, start with the terms in the two left-hand columns in the table below and modify the third column to suit your research purposes.

Indigenous Peoples


Intellectual Property


Other Variables, e.g. jurisdiction, etc.

indigenous OR "first nations" OR aboriginal OR native OR "traditional knowledge" OR "ways of knowing"

"intellectual property" OR copyright


Citing Indigenous Elders & Knowledge Keepers

Formats for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers in APA and MLA style, from NorQuest College Library.  Developed in the spirit of wahkôhtowin and reconciliation by Lorisia MacLeod at NorQuest College Library.

Links - Intellectual Property & Indigenous Peoples

TK culturally sensitive TK multiple communities TK seasonal
A selection of the Traditional Knowledge labels available from Local Contexts.

First Nations Ethics Guide on Research and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge - a discussion document prepared by the Assembly of First Nations.

Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Portal (WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization)

Local Contexts - an initiative to support Native, First Nations, Aboriginal, and Indigenous communities in the management of their intellectual property and cultural heritage specifically within the digital environment.

Position Statement Indigenous Knowledge in Canada’s Copyright Act pdf - Canadian Federation of Library Associations

Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada (Panel on Research Ethics, Government of Canada)

Traditional Knowledge - First Nations Centre

WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014–2023 PDF