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

Introduction

Natural/Supernatural

Spirit Realm

Visual representation of nature's laws


Page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11

The balance between these positive and negative forces is thus reflected in nature, which is the field of activity of these powers. That life continues determines the story, as long a a certain harmony proceeds. Thus harmony can be understood as an equilibrium between two powers of opposing character that nevertheless work together to create the cosmos as we know it. This model of opposing forces co-operating for the larger good—the existence of the universe—is held to be embodied in the natural order. It is also mimicked by humans in their relationships with other tribes and even their enemies. As such that experience encompasses both good and bad, yet, when all is said and done, life still appears to be a thing of beauty and achievement. Reciprocity, then is a fundamental value that everyone strives to embody because it resides in the nature of the universe.

Reciprocity also relates to notions of the power…in society, in people, in words. White and Archibald provides insight from their work with elder Ellen White:

Power contained in the words/knowledge of the speaker/storyteller/teacher had to be "given back," as our people say. This giving back, though, is to others who need the knowledge, the power, the teachings; thereby ensur­ing the perpetuation of cultural teachings, values, and beliefs that contrib­ute to the cultural strength and understanding of the people.

The movement of power is not hierarchical, as from the teacher (the top) down to the student (the bottom). I picture the movement of power as flowing between concentric circles. The inner circle may represent the words, knowledge itself that expands and moves as it is taught to and shared with others. The other circles may represent the individuals, family, community, nature, nation, and spiritual realm that are influenced and in turn influence this power. I call this knowledge-as-power movement cultural reciprocity grounded in respect and responsibility. Respect is es­sential. Everyone has a place within the circle. Their place, their role is honored and respected. All also have a particular cultural responsibility to their place, their role: the storyteller-teachers to share their knowledge with others; the listener-learners to make meaning from the storyteller’s words and to put this meaning into everyday practice, thereby continuing the action of reciprocity. (161)

Reciprocity is based upon the notion that "otherness" is not foreign, but relatable through set principles and procedures. This is the foundation for major acts like treaty making or everyday activities such as agreement to work together on a contract. It is also the theoretical basis of Nature’s Law, for holding together such differences is a matter of processes, procedures, ceremonies and order orchestrated for the higher purpose of harmonious existence, just as the story indicated above.

In 1991, Associate Chief Judges A.C. Hamilton and C.M. Sinclair of the Manitoba Court were given the task of examining Aboriginal justice as it was meted out by the courts. Their conclusion was that justice meant something quite different for the dominant culture when compared to the Aboriginal:

The dominant society tries to control actions it considers potentially or actually harmful to society as a whole, to individuals or to the wrongdoers themselves by interdiction, enforcement or apprehension, in order to prevent or punish harmful or deviant behaviour. The emphasis is on the punishment of the deviant as a means of making that person conform, or as a means of protecting other members of society.

The purpose of a justice system in an Aboriginal society is to restore the peace and equilibrium within the community, and to reconcile the accused with his or her own conscience and with the individual or family who has been wronged. This is a primary difference. It is a difference that significantly challenges the appropriateness of the present legal and justice system for Aboriginal people in the resolution of conflict, the reconciliation and the maintenance of community harmony and good order (Archibald, 22).

The argument here is that such a system of justice depends upon the logic of an equilibrium between forces, such as is held within Algonquian-speaking peoples…that without the notion of a positive and negative both existing and operating within the universe, the concept of reciprocity becomes nothing more than doing good with the hope that someone will do good back to you. Such a motivation is surely too weak for the robust kinds of actions carried on by the Aboriginal communities in Alberta, and across Canada. Much more convincing is the contention that the universe allows for wildly different views on matters, but if this were to be expressed within the community, chaos would result. The cooler role of culture insisted on the principle of reciprocity, with a fundamental clash of extremes tempered by the belief that society was a mirror of a balanced system in the universe. Otherwise, the dynamic tension that brought all things into existence and created a place of beauty and would be destroyed by one type of force overriding the other.
 

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