Cultural Custody: A Blockchain Framework for Indigenous Knowledge


Cultural Custody: A Framework for Indigenous Knowledge

Team member names

Holly Grimm and Tsondru

Short summary of your improvement idea

Our initiative aims to harness blockchain and AI technologies to devise data protocols that resonate with Indigenous values and principles. By embedding these values into data collection methodologies, we seek to cultivate an ecosystem where social knowledge is gathered in a manner that is not only inclusive but also deeply respectful of Indigenous cultural heritage. This blockchain-enhanced approach ensures data sovereignty, security, and ethical usage, paving the way for the creation of rich, culturally informed datasets. These datasets will then serve as foundational elements for the development of nuanced models of social knowledge, contributing to a digital environment that celebrates and preserves the diversity of Indigenous cultures.


What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

The prevailing data collection protocols in AI and related fields often overlook crucial considerations such as cultural sovereignty, ethical data usage, privacy, and copyright adherence, especially in the context of Indigenous knowledge. This oversight can lead to the inappropriate use and commodification of culturally sensitive data, undermining the rights and traditions of Indigenous peoples.

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

Our project is grounded in the belief that the preservation of Indigenous knowledge and languages through data collection must be undertaken with the utmost respect for the cultural sovereignty and ethical standards of Indigenous communities. We propose a framework that inherently respects these values, offering a robust solution for transparent, secure, and culturally compliant data management.

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

We will employ a comprehensive approach that includes conducting qualitative interviews with Indigenous community members and stakeholders, coupled with an in-depth analysis of historical and current data collection practices. This will enable us to pinpoint existing deficiencies and areas appropriate for enhancement within current data protocols from an Indigenous perspective.

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?

The prototype will be manifested through the development of open-source code, designed to encourage and facilitate broad community engagement and collaboration. This approach will ensure that our framework is versatile and can be adapted to meet the diverse needs and contexts of Indigenous communities worldwide.

How will you field-test your improvement idea?

Our field-testing will be conducted through a carefully structured pilot program with an Indigenous community actively engaged in data collection. The insights gleaned from this pilot will be instrumental in refining and enhancing the framework, ensuring its practical applicability and effectiveness in safeguarding Indigenous knowledge.

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output?

Experts such as Michael and Caroline Running Wolf from FLAIR, and other members of Abundant Intelligences, who have extensive experience and expertise in the intersection of technology and Indigenous knowledge, would be ideal evaluators for the quality and impact of our work.

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

We will disseminate our work by publishing the open-source code and actively promoting it across networks and platforms that resonate with both technological and Indigenous communities, such as Abundant Intelligences, Natives in Tech, and Natives Rising.

What is the success vision for your idea?

Our vision of success is anchored in the empowerment of Indigenous communities to leverage and adapt our framework to protect and manage their knowledge and cultural assets digitally. This empowerment will enable these communities to tailor the technology to reflect their unique cultural landscapes, contributing to a more inclusive, respectful, and diversified digital world.



Protocol for Respectful Indigenous Data Collection might be a better title.

seems like implementation detail and not necessary to specify for now.

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I had an interesting conversation with Jeff Doctor regarding data sovereignty from indigenous perspectives and perhaps he’d be a good judge for this project? Though I am not sure the blockchain approach is the most appropriate but I am not an expert.

Hi Laurex,
Yes, Jeff Doctor would be a great judge, we both served on the Natives in Tech board.

Also, as @n_a mentioned, my RFC should have excluded implementation details until discovery is complete. Blockchain may not make sense.

Thanks for taking a look!

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