the website for the "Protection and Repatriation
of First Nation Cultural Heritage" research project.
This project is the result of a collaboration between
an international team of scholars in law and anthropology
and First Nation partners in the provinces of Alberta
and British Columbia. It has four main objectives:
(1) to disseminate information about the existing legal
(2) to facilitate respect for, and understanding of,
First Nations concepts of property and law;
(3) to assist First Nation community partners collect
and develop archival and educational resources; and
(4) to critically analyse domestic federal and provincial
legislation to provide recommendations for reform.
research program was completed on July 26, 2006. Two
books are currently under review by UBC Press (Vancouver).
to each book explaining their content can be found under
the Research Papers
link. The Introduction to volume one provides a more
detailed discussion of project methodology.
The website is designed to provide
you with updated information about the
progress of the project and information that will help
those working on repatriation and protection issues.
Brief Project Description
last decade has witnessed increased demand by indigenous peoples
around the world for ownership, protection and repatriation
of their cultural heritage including moveable objects, sacred
sites and associated intellectual property. In Canada these
issues have received some attention in modern land claim agreements
and treaties, private negotiations, and recently litigation
and community specific repatriation legislation. However, ownership,
protection and trade of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Canada
is primarily governed by dated federal, territorial and provincial
legislation which fails to reflect First Nation laws and priorities
and developments in Canadian Aboriginal rights law and international
law. Unlike other jurisdictions that have indigenous populations
and share Canada's colonial legal history, little research and
consultation has been conducted to ascertain First Nation concepts
of cultural heritage and related property laws, the extent to
which these concepts and laws can be partnered and respected
within Canadian law, and the nature of law reform required to
respect Canadian laws on the inherent rights of Aboriginal peoples.
research program, lead by Professor Bell ( University of Alberta)
and Professor Paterson ( U.B.C. Law) will examine Canadian
legislation affecting ownership, protection and control of
First Nation cultural heritage and develop strategies for
reform. The research has four primary objectives: to disseminate
information about the existing legal regime; to facilitate
respect for, and understanding of, First Nations concepts
of property and laws affecting cultural heritage; to assist
First Nation community partners collect and develop archival
and educational resources on local indigenous laws and cultural
heritage; and to critically analyse domestic law and provide
recommendations for reform within and outside of the Western
legal framework. Research will be informed by case studies
designed in collaboration with First Nation partners featuring
First Nation concepts of property, laws and heritage protection
priorities; Canadian Aboriginal rights and property law; international
laws and treaties on human rights, cultural property, intellectual
property and the rights of indigenous peoples; and reform
initiatives in jurisdictions with similar legal obligations
such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America.
research is unique because it places First Nation and Canadian
laws and concepts of property on equal footing in legal research
and law reform activity. It will explore the relationship
of private property rationale and concepts of national heritage
informing current legislation to the survival of distinct
Aboriginal cultures. It will also be the first comprehensive
review of domestic cultural heritage legislation. Participation
by First Nation partners in B.C. and Alberta and First Nation
scholars at all levels of the research program ensures that
unique indigenous approaches to legal theory and analysis
will be incorporated.
the scope of the research and consultation, published research
outcomes are not anticipated for three to five years. However,
case study reports, preliminary research reports, bibliographies
and other information generated from the project will be posted
on the project website throughout the duration of the project.
In the early years equally important outcomes will be the
development of community archival material.