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Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels in 10 Points



Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels in 10 Points

If you are looking for a more equitable way to understand the context of Indigenous communities, Traditional Knowledge Labels are a tool to add existing local protocols to cultural heritage that is digitally circulating outside the community.


1. TK Labels is a digital tagging system.


TK Labeling is designed to identify and clarify which material has community-specific restrictions regarding access and use. 


2. The TK Labels must work for Native, First Nations, Aboriginal and Indigenous communities first and foremost.

Information can be augmented to add missing information, to indicate that knowledge is sacred, under gender restrictions, seasonal conditions, and provide context for the importance of materials.


3. TK Labels work as an educational intervention.


They also need to be functional for the institutions that are using them. The hope is to generate new Indigenous-driven access.


4. Local Contexts platform.

Local Contexts the name of the online platform that was created to address intellectual property needs of Native, First Nations, Aboriginal and Indigenous


5. The system started with 15 TK Labels, but these are expanding.

Community Use Only
Men's Restricted
Family Use

Community Voice
Men's General
Women's Restricted
Women's General


6. The system uses bold graphics to communication clearly about knowledge, knowledge restrictions, and calls to action.
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7. Based on Fair Trade labeling system that indicated fair and equitable practices.

8. TK Labels aim to address issues with historical exploitation and appropriation.

9. Use example: The Library of Congress and Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township in Maine
have been working together since 2014 to develop a set of TK Labels for the first sound recordings of Native American voices ever recorded in 1890.
This audio recording of a Passamaquoddy war song has the following labels:
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10. TK Labels promote the care and stewarding of items with the goal of reciprocal curation.


Reciprocal curation challenges the implied neutrality of typical models of curation. 

TK is a strategy to create visibility for existing community practices for which documentation has been lost, silenced or missing.