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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Exercised as a People

Indigenous Peoples

Constitutional rights
and responsibilities

Social Reality

Rights of
Interpretation

Origin of
Interpretation

Exercised as a
People

Definition of People

Great Turtle Island

Relationships

Equality

Survival for
All Beings

Survival for
the People

Right to Exist

Implications

The Land

Spirit of the Land

Judicial and Fiscal Order

Empowering

Visual representation of nature's laws


This Right is Exercised as a People who become the basic unit of Nature’s Laws.

The community of participating people is the foundation of Indigenous identity in Canada. The elements of that identity cannot be transferred to other institutions…it is the responsibility of "The People" to define and know Nature’s Laws. No one individual can articulate that Law fully. Even so, The People cannot give up the right, since it resides in their collective control. The fundamental reason why the People cannot be destroyed is that their right to survive was bequeathed to them when they became the People by the Ancestors and sacred powers themselves. In effect, the People's existence is an inalienable right. This view is reflected in this selection:

From Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en Chiefs, "The ownership of territory is a marriage of the Chief and the land. Each Chief has an ancestor who encountered and acknowledged the life of the land. From such encounters came power. The land, the plants, the animals and the people all have spirit – they all must be shown respect. That is the basis of our law" (qtd Archibald, Coyote Learns 237).

Western law is hampered in its relationship to Indigenous legal thinking because it does not accept some dimensions of "reality." Western theory, for example, does not accept dreams or spirit voices as determiners for social and political action. Both of these are prime ways that new directions are instigated in Indigenous culture. The concept is based upon the acceptance that one's person can be changed significantly by outside influences, and that change may have legal right in actions undertaken. This selection reflects this conception:

Transformative experience among northern aboriginal people is integral to their system of communication. It involves both the transfer of information and a transfer of perspective … he or she may also experience contact with collective representations such as spiritual and mythic beings, either directly, as in the Northern Algonquian shaking tent ceremony, or indirectly through the telling of mythic stories … In addition to transformation that transfers information, a person may also experience a transformation of perspective. In this case, the person sees and hears the world from the perspective of another being. Such a shift in perspective is at the heart of the northern aboriginal vision quest and is more generally the defining characteristic of shamanic experience (Ridington, 105-106).

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