Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk

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Cultural History

The Tuolomne Band of Me-Wuk Indians is located on the Tuolumne Rancheria in Central California. This Indian tribe is federally recognized. They are composed of 300 members. They say that one of their most valuable resources is their traditional cultural heritage. The tribe wanted to preserve and take care of their history and culture in a very orderly and professional manner but still considering their tradition and sovereignty.

The Tribe is planning to invest in many projects--revision of the Tribal Constitution and the development of a Tribal Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights Code, a Tribal Comprehensive Cultural Plan's development and implementation, a Tribal Archives and Records Project development and implementation, and a Tribal Repatriation Project development and implementation

Their main goal is the establishment of a Tribal Interpretive Center which can house an archival center, a museum and a curation facility. This center will play the role of serving the Tribe, about 4,000Central Sierra Me-Wuk Tribal population, scholars as well as the general public.  

The Tuolomne Band of Me-Wuk Indians is very much concerned with the intellectual property's misuse and misappropriation. This includes their traditional symbols. That means that nobody can use those symbols without their concern. The tribe passed their comments to the United States Patent and Trademark Office with regards to the process of obtaining public comments on conducting the congressionally mandated study of federal trademark protection for tribal insignia on February 11, 1999. The following is the summary of comments that was submitted by the tribe and is now under the study of PTO. 

American Indian and Alaska Native are federally recognized by the law as separate, sovereign governments. They are just like the states, federal government, and foreign countries and nations. The tribal issue that talks about the trademark law is actually opposite the states, federal government and foreign nations. Under the trademark law, tribes can register their flags coat of arms, and official insignia unlike the states, federal government and federal nations. It is a responsibility for them to preserve this ability to register. This will serve for their tribal and federal interests.

However, even if the states and federal governments cannot register their insignia and coat of arms under the trademark law, they still protect their items by implementing laws on the unauthorized use of these items.  

There should be preservation on the register ability of the flags, official insignia, and coat of arms under this law. This law also has to prohibit the use of tribal flags ad all those items by third parties unless they are allowed by the tribe. This would just be for security purposes of the tribe. 

This tribe is really aware of their rights and is concerned of it. Their participation on partaking with the issues that involves their tribe became very active and it benefits their own group. Up to this day, they are still doing their part to grow their tribe's members and protect their sovereignty. 

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