The National Congress of American Indians, a Native American rights group, has asked ICANN for special protection for tribal names under the new top-level domains program.
In comments filed with ICANN today, the NCAI asks for the same level of protection given to countries and territories found on various UN lists, such as the ISO 3166-1 list of country names.
NCAI president Jefferson Keel wrote:
Allowing the approval of top level tribal domain names (such as .navajo or .seneca) without considering the protection of tribal governments would cause confusion, attributing certain information or views to a tribal government which would lack control while its name is being used. In our view, only tribal government websites should be authorized to use a tribal name gTLD, unless express consent is granted by the tribal government.
The letter appears to request that these protections are extended both to TLD strings and to names registered at the second level, although it’s not entirely clear on that point.
In other words, the NCAI appears to want not only “.navajo” reserved, but also to have “navajo” placed on the list of reserved strings that all TLD registries will have to abide by.
The latest list of tribes officially recognized by the US government has several hundred entries. If ICANN were to make the requested changes, more tribes would be protected than UN members.
Most of the push for protection of geographic terms has come from ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, which does not have any Native American tribal representatives.
Keel’s comments were filed in response to the ongoing ICANN public comment period on the latest version of the Applicant Guidebook, which ends this Saturday.