This paper presents a new conceptual framework for the ownership of cultural and intellectual property that is developed by researchers and Indigenous peoples. We argue that ethnographic research produces a new form of knowledge, the creation of an ‘intellectual soup’ that arises from a reformulation of two intellectual traditions and bodies of knowledge. We conclude that all of the people who played a major role in contributing ingredients, tweaking the recipe or providing facilities or equipment have some rights in that intellectual soup. This paper contributes to discussions by archaeologists, Indigenous communities and other stakeholders who are seeking to develop more equitable and successful resolutions and policies regarding the cultural and intellectual property issues. The conceptual framework should help others to constructively negotiate cultural and intellectual property issues, foster positive relationships and head off adversarial or exploitative situations. Though the case study is that of an Australian Aboriginal group, the issues we raise have international applicability.