The cultural symbols we trade in and use to shape identity have discursive significance attached to them. Dominant norms of imperialist appropriation, product fetish and Western consumer capitalism do not provide the only source of these meanings. Indigenous claims to ‘cultural capital’ pose a direct challenge to hegemonic cultural practice and its associated exploitation of the Other. Cultural production and appropriation are located within discourses of contested meaning. In this paper, the contingent meanings attached to cultural symbols and signifiers will be examined in relation to indigenous claims for protection of intangible property rights within Australia’s Intellectual Property regime.