Indigenous Peoples Research Guide

A guide for finding information on First Nations, Aboriginal people, Inuit, and Metis.

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



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.

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