To investigate the protection of Indigenous cultural rights in Panama and the United States

The Arts
To investigate the protection of Indigenous cultural rights in Panama and the United States featured image
My project is aimed at highlighting how the two distinct national laws in the USA and Panama protect Indigenous cultural rights. The Indian Arts and Craft Act was implemented in 1935 and aims to stop the piracy and counterfeit Native American art and crafts products thereby supporting economic development for Native American artists as well as protecting their culture so that it can be passed down to the next generations. In Panama, Law Number 20 was established in 2000 and aims to protect the arts and crafts of the Indigenous peoples of Panama. I looked specifically at the protection of molas, a colourful embroidered applique made by the Kuna women in Panama. I was looking at how these two laws worked in the USA and Panama and then how effective the laws were, what issues were present in applying these laws and what lessons we can learn in Australia to implement similar laws. Conclusions and Recommendations: The laws in the USA and Panama are applied very clearly and fairly across the general public as well as among Indigenous communities in these countries In the USA, many Native Americans that I spoke to knew about the Indian Arts and Craft Board and the law In Panama, all the Kuna people, (advocates, practitioners and lay people) that I spoke to were very active in terms of protecting their cultural rights and knew about Law No. 20 The consumers that I spoke to at the Santa Fe Indian art markets knew about the sale of authentic Native American art but some had not heard about the Indian Arts and Craft Board The information booth at the Santa Fe Indian art markets was well attended over the weekend and many consumers showed interest in the issue of protecting Native American art and craft The key finding is that education and promotion of the law is very important and needs to be instilled in the cycle of selling and buying Indigenous art, starting with the Indigenous artist, and then going on to the dealer or gallery and to the consumer and the wider public and Government The Australian Government needs to consider the Law Number 20 of 2000 of Panama for the collective rights article, to draft sui generis law to protect Indigenous cultural intellectual property rights Australia needs to support and fund the proposed National Indigenous Arts and Cultural Authority (NAIACA) so that it can administer this new sui generis law Increased resourcing and making mandatory the Indigenous Art code is necessary to address the issues of selling inauthentic Indigenous art Australia should amend consumer laws so that there are stricter criminal penalties to the law like the Indian Arts and Craft Act of 1990 in the USA Australia should continue to support and resource the number of organisations who run the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art fairs and markets across Australia so that consumer awareness is increased in terms of Indigenous culture and buying authentic Indigenous art and crafts Tourism Australia and Customs needs further training on the sale and promotion of authentic Indigenous art and craft and to work with organisations like Indigenous Art Code, Indigenous Art Centres and their umbrella organisations, Arts Law Centre of Australia, a future NIACA, Australia Council for the Arts and IP Australia IP Australia needs to support Indigenous representatives to attend the WIPO IGC meetings on traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources IP Australia needs to establish an Indigenous advisory committee and an Indigenous strategic policy director and team in the policy branch Keywords: Indigenous, culture, rights, traditional, cultural, expressions, Molas, Native American, arts, law


Patricia Adjei

Patricia Adjei


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