‘Protecting the Intangible’

Chante Westmoreland, An Analysis of the Lack of Protection for Intangible Tribal Cultural Property in the Digital Age, 106 California Law Review 959 (2018). The notion of property enshrined in the American legal system is a poor fit for what scholars have termed cultural property – tangible and intangible items of great importance to tribal cultural heritage. As Chante Westmoreland deftly reveals in her Note, An Analysis of the Lack of Protection for Intangible Tribal Cultural Property in the Digital Age, property law addresses only some of the concerns associated with cultural items of significance to tribes. Property law is designed to protect the object itself, but tribes are often concerned not only with an actual object, but also with the cultural and spiritual significance of the item. (In order to track Westmoreland’s own language, I will use the word ‘tribe’ or ‘tribal’ to refer to people indigenous to what is now the United States. Other scholars might use the words indigenous, Native American, Indian, or their variants. The choice of language is a vital conversation, but one I will not take up in this short review.) …” (more)

[Nancy Leong, JOTWELL, 27 November]

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