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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
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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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Relationships

Applying
Relational Law

Kinship Systems

Family
Responsibilities

Respect

 Relationships

Kinship Group

Understandings of Relations

Tsu'u Tina Kinship System

Kinship Terms

Redress
and Judgement

Conclusions

Sources

Visual representation of nature's laws


The area that concerns marriage and other social forms is called relational law in this treatise. Nature’s Laws provide evidence that the notion of relationship is fundamental to Indigenous notions of law…to be connected is the sole means of comprehending one's identity. Being 'connected' is therefore a larger word than Western notions of kinship.

Traditionally one was connected to both one's human ancestors as well as to one’s clan’s ancestors, that is, to the animal and 'natural' world around one; beyond that, one was connected to one's extended family through culturally and blood-line constructed kinship systems, to one's visionary or dream helpers spirits, and to the clan societies to which one belonged. Some elements of spiritual identity may have only been known to a very few holy people, who were the counselors of the youth as they matured and had visionary experiences that were then interpreted by them. They also were knowledgeable of family histories, and could render the oral history of a feud or vendetta when needed regarding a certain family. Essentially the belief was that unbalanced acts ‘caused’ reciprocal imbalance in the community, so every destructive act had to be mediated for the good of all.

A number of areas impinge on this category of Indigenous understanding. Let us look at the Cree example: kinship systems, family relationships, ‘kiciniskehk’ law or 'sacred power' law (ritual law), making things 'right,' systems of responsibility, respect, consent, reciprocity, etc.

Generally speaking, in Cree, the word wahkohtowin expresses the notion of an overarching law of respect and belonging. One belongs, first and foremost, to the sacred order of things laid down by the first Creator. One also belongs as a member of the family of the first ancestor, so the word could equally be used to describe ‘descendant.’ Hence, human society is part of the order of nature, and the laws of the natural world apply to them and traditional teaching had it that no moral standard existed that was in conflict with this 'natural' law. Attending this notion is that one's place is determined by the structures of ritual, as well as the structures of human nature – this because one is made up of emotional, physical, social and spiritual dimensions, and ritual life provides the unity for them all.

Government is also held to be part of wahkohtowin, and it is the responsibility of those in power to adhere to Nature's Law in their dealings with the community. Youth learn proper conduct from the leadership about this aspect of Nature's Law…respect, recognition, authority, leadership power, as well as pride and compassion. Along with this comes the notion of restraint…if wahkohtowin is not followed, then the system would be unbalanced, and the result would be retribution, not just for the initial person who violated the code, but for all who are implicated in the event. All these elements had and continue to have linkages to relationships.
 

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