UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Event Information

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Time: 1:15 - 2:45 p.m., UN Headquarters, New York

On May 25, 2011, at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, a workshop on protection of indigenous peoples cultural heritage and property was held as a side-event of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The workshop, titled Preserving and Protecting the Cultural Heritage and Intellectual Property of Indigenous Peoples: The Case of the Hopi, was organized and co-sponsored by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center in cooperation with Hopi Cultural Preservation Office and UN World Intellectual Property Organization.

The Center Director, Angela Riley, informed the delegates on the activities of the Center as a research body within the UCLA system affiliated with UCLA Law school. Angela also briefed on the US cultural property law as it responds to the aspirations of indigenous peoples in the US.

The workshop was opened by the UN Permanent Forum member, Valmaine Toki, Maori of New Zealand. Valmaine Toki gave blessings to the delegates and presented on the situation of Maori peoples and their intellectual property rights claim to traditional knowledge of flora and fauna. Stewart Koyiyumptewa and Anita Poleahla of Hopi Nation represented Hopi Cultural Preservation Office at the workshop. Stewart Koyiyumptewa, an Office archivist for 11 years, advised participants on the protocol of conducting collaborative research and production of records between Hopi peoples and academia resting his presentation on the history of misappropriation of Hopi knowledge by the academic institutions and museums. Anita Poleahla , the first certified Hopi language teacher, informed Forum delegates on the meaning of Hopi language for the Hopi peoples. Anita spoke on how language is embedded in the way of life of Hopi communities and how such a positioning and social role of Hopi language demands specific approach toward Hopi   language curriculum development. 

Word Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)   was represented by Gulnara Abbasova, Crimean Tatar of Ukraine. Gulnara updated the workshop participants on the current developments within WIPO in the area of protection of traditional knowledge focusing on the activities of WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, and spoke of capacity building activities of WIPO focused on indigenous peoples. Art historian and Professor Emeritus, of California State University, Fullerton, Zena Pearlstone spoke on commodification Hopi cultural items with a focus on Katsina dolls. Ellen Pearlstein, UCLA Associate Professor, Department of Information Studies and UCLA/Getty Master's Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation spoke of work carried out by museums and art collectors of Hopi ceremonial objects. The event was moderated by Ulia Gosart, Principal Investigator for this project. The workshop concluded with Q/A part. Distinguished guests included Elsa Stamatopoulou, former Chief of the UNPFII Secretariat and Professor at Columbia University, Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race;  Rama Rao, Officer in Charge, WIPO Coordination Office, New York;  and Jane Anderson, Assistant Professor, Centre for Heritage and Society, Anthropology Department, University of Massachusetts.