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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Spiritual Life



Spirit Realm

Visual representation of nature's laws

This section explores the cultural role of "the sacred" and shows the inter-connectedness of all things. It expands the notion of what is "religious" in western thought to include all cosmic reality.

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Introduction: The Sacred

Our life reminds us of a flower that is put on this earth, in a special place. That place where the flower is standing is its home. Nature has provided everything for it to survive. The sun comes up and it is warm; its petal open up and reveals itself as best as it can be. It’s a comfortable place and it has a right to be there, just like us. It reminds us that we, too, like to be comfortable in this world, have wood for our fires, a home, food on our tables. The Yedariye gave us all these things to survive. (Harvey Scanie, Dene Elder, InKonze, 61).

Chief Wayne RoanNature’s Law in Aboriginal thought is directly connected to the cultural role of "the sacred," a concept that speaks to us of spiritual realms and metaphysical understandings, but also includes such ordinary things as tying a piece of grass in a certain knot to guarantee a successful hunt. As Wayne Roan, Mountain Cree ceremonialist puts it, "All God’s creation is a natural element, and the Indian is the interpreter of God’s law. We teach that humans are a part of this law but many have separated themselves from nature and being a part of the world. The Indian knows he is one of God’s many creations and he is not a separate thing from nature."

In effect, the understanding of what is "religious" in Western thought must be broadened and deepened to accommodate a system that sees the category as the foundation for all cosmic reality. Obviously such a category of experience does not translate well into Western conceptual criteria. As a result, we can only point towards some of the more obvious examples and meanings that the word connotes. Blackfoot Boys

If we consider a few of the words related to the sacred, we quickly see how complex the category was understood to be. Blackfoot thought can be quickly gleaned from the root tapai: it signals power of a greater-than-human sort, i.e.,  the sacred. Thus we find—then he was given by him the power (of the beaver-bundles), otápaipummòkaie; or then he was given by him the sacred energy (belonging to each thing that was given to him), ki otsítapaipùkaie; (Uhlenbeck 162). Or, in the Athapaskan languages of the Chipewyan/Deneis the complicated word inkonze . It means sacred power, special insight, greater-than human knowledge, medicine understanding or basically to know something a little. (Smith, 75); In Cree a wide variety of words refer to this are of human experience: soki; sohkahâc; a spirit power, mamahtâwisiwin; an object embodying sacred or spirit power, manitohkân; s/he makes him a spirit power, manitohkew; to see in a concrete form sacred power, manitohkewin; it is the expression of spirit power, manitowan; it has spirit power or it is sacred, manitowâtan; s/he has medicine power or sacred power, manitowiw; the act of expressing sacred power or divinity, manitoeiein (Waugh 387).

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