Aboriginal People of all regions of the world
traditionally have governed themselves through complex
legal codes and other governance tools. The
traditional governance of Indigenous People residing in
Alberta (Woodland and Plains Cree,
Blackfoot and Dene belonging to Treaties 6, 7, 8 and 11)
have been the focus of the Nature's Laws Project. The project is ongoing and the
Nature's Laws website will continue to grow as
research products grow.
Laws may be written or unwritten. The Constitution of
Britain, for example, is not written. In Canada, some laws
are statutory, others are "Common Law." The laws of
Indigenous Peoples around the world are often referred to as
The spiritual dimension of existence is always operative in
First Nations' culture. Spiritual concepts were expressed in
terms of "truths" or "laws" and people were expected to act
according to these laws in every aspect of their daily life.
In other words, the laws were meant to be "lived," rather than “obeyed." Such "living-out" of Nature's Law promoted a balanced, healthy and well-rounded
Today, numerous First Nations peoples have moved away from Nature’s Laws and
live totally according to laws of the dominant society. Others live by both systems of
law. Still others are attempting to move back into Nature’s Laws. A similar
situation exists for persons whose ancestry includes both Indigenous and European
cultures, Métis people, for example.
Nature’s Laws are highly interwoven and, like
nature itself, a holistic entity incapable of being divided.
Nonetheless, it is possible to view this holistic entity
from different angles, or through different "lenses," in order to see special dimensions and relationships.
Eight of these “lenses” through which Indigenous Understandings of Nature’s Laws can be more clearly seen,
that is, the Categories of Nature's Laws, are presented on
the website in separate sections as follows:
Speech by the Most Honourable Antonio Lamer, PC, CC, CD, LLD, DU. September 26, 2002.