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Case report

Language Revitalization in Native North America – Issues of Intellectual Property Rights and Intellectual Sovereignty

Sheri Tatsch

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Language revitalization, oral tradition and epistemology are expressions of Native
peoples intellectual sovereignty, and thus the foundation for indigenous intellectual property
rights. As the people of California move towards language and cultural revitalization
the question arises: What constitutes or constructs the definitions of intellectual
property and how can appropriation of indigenous knowledge be protected? Looking at
the issues faced by the California's indigenous populace and by implication, other indigenous
peoples in the United States, this essay examines how protection may be afforded
under the United Nations definition of 'heritage'. Given that the holding safe of a
'culture' or 'heritage' is inclusive of language, and thus has been determined to be a human


language revitalization; Native Americans; property rights; intellectual sovereignty

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