From the “Better-Late-Than-Never Department,” it just came to our attention that the state of Oregon passed the “Tribal History/Shared History” Law in 2017, which “calls upon the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to develop a statewide curriculum relating to the Native American experience in Oregon, including tribal history, tribal sovereignty, culture, treaty rights, government, socioeconomic experiences, and current events,” according to its website. The bill was proposed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
The World Intellectual Property Organization, a part of the United Nations, is focusing on how to use the Intellectual Property system (patents, copyrights, trade secrets, etc.) to protect indigenous knowledge “from misappropriation and exploitation,” according to a story on the website “Intellectual Property Watch.”
It’s a complicated topic, but the story provides some concrete applications:
One of the examples is from Australia, where a collaborative research project led to a patent. The Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation and the University of South Australia undertook research based on bush medicine plants. Certain compounds were identified to be used in the treatment of inflammation. Patent applications were filed and a patent was granted to the University of South Australia and the Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation. Through the agreements signed and the patent jointly owned, both patent owners can decide how the compounds are commercialised, and will share the commercial benefits.
Keep reading for other interesting stories.
We do a pretty good job in this country of writing reports and making recommendations, where we fall down is implementation.
For example, on this day in history, Jan. 23, 1992, the White House was in the middle of the three-day conference on Indian Education. It issued a 57-page Executive Summary with many recommendations. Here are a few of those recommendations specific to Native languages.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that American Indian /Alaska Native students will have access to curriculum and material which provides accurate and relevant information on the language, history, and culture of the American Indian/Alaska Native. (p. 21)
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that successful Early Childhood Programs shall be affirmed by the President and Congress to include the following components ….7. Respect the use of Native American culture and language in the educational process of Indian children at an early age to enhance the level of pride and self-esteem in learning … (page 29)
Ensure the strengthening, preservation, and revival of native languages and cultures to permit students to learn their tribal language as a first or second language. (page 32)
You get the idea. Continue reading
Seventeen years ago, on August 6, 1998, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 1309, stating:
The Federal Government has a special, historic responsibility for the education of American Indian and Alaska Native students. Improving educational achievement and academic progress for American Indian and Alaska Native students is vital to the national goal of preparing every student for responsible citizenship, continued learning, and productive employment. … In order to meet the six goals of this order, a comprehensive Federal response is needed to address the fragmentation of government services available to American Indian and Alaska Native students and the complexity of inter-governmental relationships affecting the education of those students. The purpose of the Federal activities described in this order is to develop a long-term, comprehensive Federal Indian education policy.”
In spite of this policy, Indian children continue to lag behind their white peers in education. MPR reported earlier this year that only 49 percent of the state’s Native American students graduate on time, the second worst in the nation, based on 2012-13 data. In 2014, the Star Tribune ran a four-part editorial series titled: “Separate and unequal: Indian schools, a nation’s neglect,” detailing how the federal government has failed to live up to its commitment to the education system run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
It should be noted that the Executive Order does not create a legal basis for any claims against the government for failing to live up to its promises. The Executive Order finishes with this disclaimer:
This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its officers or employees, or any other person.