Skip to content

Sunny Nash Enhances Skills in Tribal and Indigenous Studies

July 4, 2019
Sunny Nash author of Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's

Sunny Nash, Author-Journalist

Protecting Our Legacies, an educational program by California Indian Museum & Cultural Center in Santa Rosa, California, features California Indian history, cultures and contributions to civilization and modern lifestyles, in a specialized study with principles useful to many cultural preservation efforts worldwide.

Sunny Nash, recipient of an Honors Diploma in Media Law from the London School of Journalism in 2018, and syndicated newspaper columnist, is the author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, a civil rights era memoir on life with her part-Comanche grandmother. Nash’s book was selected by the Association of American University Presses as a Book for Understanding U.S. Race Relations, and recommended by the Miami-Dade (Florida) Public Library System for Native American Collections.

Protecting Our Legacies, California Indian Museum Santa Rosa, California

California Indian Museum Santa Rosa, California

Nash is incorporating the Protecting Our Legacies training into her existing journalism projects, research and scholarship, which include human rights, cultural heritage, information and communications technology (ICT), Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), law, and other areas affecting modernization in indigenous communities.

“We still live on one planet the last time I checked,” Nash said. “Yes, ‘we are one.’ And what we do on our little part of Planet Earth may affect climate or the economy of someone on the other side. And the planet seems to have gotten a lot smaller with growth of mass broadcast communications a few decades ago, and more recently, with the explosion of the Internet that allows instantaneous communication and collaboration with anyone on any part of the planet who has an IP (Internet Protocol) address.”

Modernization offers opportunities for global thinking, strategic critical planning for digital archiving of folk knowledge, research, scholarship, instruction and information access if all people are to acquire their international human rights, intellectual property rights and financial sustainability.

“California Native Americans and also Indigenous peoples worldwide should be allowed to profit from their persistence in maintaining, growing and passing knowledge down over generations,” Nash said. “Much of what they know came to them through folklore that has never been written down, but transferred through stories and customs, knowledge management at the very root of civilization on our planet. Thinking in terms of ‘we are one,’ I want to be of service to my planet in some way, at some time. After all, ‘we‘ can’t protect our civilization if ‘we‘ don’t know how to prepare our young with the tools they need to move our civilization forward.”

California Indian Museum & Cultural Center cultivates Youth Ambassadors.

First Lady, Michelle Obama, awards Museum Youth Ambassadors at the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center, November 16, 2016

First Lady, Michelle Obama, awards Museum Youth Ambassador, November 16, 2016

According to museum reports, California Indians do not control some of their most valuable tribal cultural resources. To combat this issue, California Indian Museum & Cultural Center is developing consistent controls on artifacts, materials preservation, proper presentation of historical objects, correct usage, accurate identification, and true representation of traditions surrounding collected artifacts.  In addition, the Museum is increasing its personnel’s professional consultation and coordination expertise as cultural advocates and liaisons through training programs such as Protecting Our Legacies. Along with cultural sensitivity training, tribal museum professionals can promote respect for Native perspectives when loaning artifacts and exhibitions to the general public, valuable training for museum professionals in charge of any cultural collections.

A distinguished Alumnus of the World Intellectual Property Organization Academy in Geneva, Switzerland, in Advanced Intellectual Property (IP), Nash won an opportunity to participate in a prestigious IP training program offered under a new collaboration between the World Intellectual Property Organization, Korean Intellectual Property Office, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Korea Invention Promotion Association. Due to personal circumstances, Nash did not attend, but she uses her Academy IP training in Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions, and Software Licensing Rights to explore protections against exploitation of indigenous people’s traditions, knowledge and culture, which comprise potential means of economic growth and financial sustainability for currently impoverished indigenous communities.

“Intellectual Property Rights are Human Rights that need protection,” Nash said. “There are enough resources for all of us, if none become greedy.”

Software Licensing IP training equips Nash further in the area of IP rights to understand advantages and disadvantages of proprietary and open source software to help provide developing countries, where legal options, frameworks and policy are evolving. With access to software, they can preserve and digitize their folk knowledge. In addition, software they may develop in association with their efforts is also intellectual property that can provide royalties and other forms  of software development compensation.

The possibilities are real,” Nash said. “Look out into the world at the people. Hiding inside our comfortable little environs will not solve the problems facing our existence. We learn, not by throwing away what is known, but by incorporating what has been known in all our cultures for millennia. Retaining our intellectual wealth and profiting from it, while allowing others to do the same.”

To educate herself further, Nash studied Cultural Heritage Management offered by the University of Queensland in Australia, a program that explored cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage. The program is similar to that of the California Indian programs—to manage and conserve cultural inheritance for future generations. The Australian program included archaeological sites, and cultural locations associated with indigenous traditions.


Australian Aboriginal Farmers at Parker’s Protectorate, Mt Franklin. Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate Station at Franklinford, Victoria. Authors: Fauchery, Antoine (1823 – 1861) and Daintree, Richard (1832 – 1878). Public Domain 1858

In some cases, indigenous farmers in these locations were displaced by mining, commerce, construction, building and real estate development in the same fashion as indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, India and other places. In fact, some populations and their cultures were entirely wiped off the face of the planet by not only displacement, but also by war, slavery and genocide. The invasion of commercial and money-driven activities that caused mass human displacement did not compensate or take indigenous cultures into consideration.

“Further insult,” Nash said. “Was stripping people of their identities and culture, and stealing from them their intellectual property associated with their folk knowledge and hawking it like bandits in the New World.”

In the same way the Australian program is involving indigenous communities and training museum personnel, the California Indians increasingly are participating in making decisions concerning the preservation of their cultural heritage and its preservation. This means incorporating museum curation, as well as digital archives, each requiring completely different skills and competencies to perform and maintain, skills for which community members and volunteers need training. 

“It is all about the people,” Nash said. “I believe inclusion makes people feel more secure and that makes the world more peaceful. Bringing technology to underdeveloped parts of the world, no matter where those parts may be located, will benefit the people living there and give them greater access to information, education and productivity at home and on the world stage. People should be included at the table where rights and privileges are being served, and given the opportunity to learn the rules of the table, instead of being told ‘you’re not good enough to dine here.’”

© Copyright 2019. Sunny Nash. All rights reserved.




From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: