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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
The Heritage Community Foundation, Alberta Law Foundation and Albertasource.ca
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About

Visual representation of nature's laws


The Project | Personnel | Goals and Objectives

The Project

The Nature's Laws Project was developed in a partnership involving the Heritage Community Foundation and representatives of First Nations from Treaty 6, 7 and 8.  The Senior Aboriginal Research Consultant is Chief Wayne Roan, Elder and ceremonialist.  The Senior Academic Consultant is Earle Waugh, Ph.D., Director, Dimic Research Institute and Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.  The Legal Consultant was Catherine Twinn, B.A., LL.B., LL.M., First Nations legal practitioner and historian. The project was managed by Adriana A. Davies, Ph.D., Executive Director, Heritage Community Foundation.

The project is a study of the legal codes and traditional governance of Alberta’s First Nations in the areas covered by Treaties 6, 7 and 8.  It was structured as having research and public education components and involved Elders, academics and legal historians.  The material examined was evidence found in oral histories, as well as case law, and the scholarly literature relating to Aboriginal People. Additional source material included the works of missionaries and others who wrote about their contact with Aboriginal People (e.g., the writings of Father Roger Vandersteene, Father Emile Petitot, O.M.I., and Father Valentin Végreville, O.M.I.  The project is marked by consultations with Elders, ceremonialists and other resource people, which included some new oral histories.

The Nature's Laws Project, which is a study of pre-contact Aboriginal "law," is based on a rigorous and methodologically sound approach to the topic. The following areas have been researched:

  • Linguistics—A study of Aboriginal languages can show to a great extent how it is that things are meaningful for speakers.
     
  • Philosophical Issues—How it is that something is meaningful? What is considered as knowledge, both for English (European language speakers) and Aboriginal speakers? Are there divergent constructions of reality? Divergent rational systems, logics?
     
  • Methodological Issues—As English speakers, can we come to know divergent epistemic and systems of belief held by other language speakers?
     
  • Aboriginal Texts and Literatures—These are the sources, often oral, on which to base constructions of rationality and meaning.
     
  • Ethnographic/Sociological/Anthropological Material—Further sources on which to found systems of meaning and world views.
     
  • Case Study—What is already happening and has already happened in the area of Aboriginal Law? How have contemporary Native Law and Canadian common law been impacted by pre-existent judiciary features?

A research model was created for Indigenous Law that is spiral in nature and contrasts with western law which is rational and linear. The comparison of Aboriginal and western law was based on discussion under the following headings:

  • Supernatural/natural distinction
  • Hierarchy vs. circularity
  • Person/Collective
  • Aboriginal "Constitutional" Law and Western Constitutional Law
  • Adversarial Law vs. Restitutional Law
  • Equality as a fundamental value vs. equality as qualified by community perception

The Project | Personnel | Goals and Objectives
 

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