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

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


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Treaties assume the social and cultural equality of all Peoples.

Indigenous notions of constitutional rights extended to those groups with whom they made treaties. Treaty-making was a constitutional affair because it accepted a premise of Nature’s Laws: all peoples (communities) had equal rights to Turtle Island because they were all placed here by the Creator:

I had to look at diversity all across Canada and I had to look at it like one of those bushes, that is, all are equal. Sykes Powderface, Blackfoot, April 2003.

I am very privileged to learn from Walking Buffalo. I call this "Indian Law"- it's the way we live. Language is very important Language is very important; we run into a lot of problems but the fact that we have leaders whose minds have been conditioned by the White Man's thinking and that's how they interpret the Treaties, it's frustrating. I am concerned with First Nations law as it related to the Treaties, that is what I am concerned with. Indians had their own law at the time of Treaties-it was called the 'Supreme law.'(i.e Nature’s Laws) . A First Nation's declaration signed documents that began with "We live by the laws of the Creator"-these are our laws given to us by our Creator. ...We do not live by hierarchy of laws; we are all equal. Relationship to the land is important. Walking Buffalo did not indicate ownership of the land; no-one owns this land. Who owns their Mother? No one! How do we sell off our Mother Earth or pawn off in a deal? Our young people today have to understand this.

Language is important; English is a bastardized version of nouns, with a large vocabulary. There are many different ways to say one thing. First Nation's languages are expressive with a smaller vocabulary. When our Elders speak, the English used a distorted version of what the Elders are saying. Trust, honesty, respect and honour are what guide us; that's what guides this Natural Law we are talking about today. Sykes Powderface, Blackfoot, April 2003.

For example, both pre- and post-Confederation treaties recognize Aboriginal sovereignty (Prucha 1994, Wunder 1994). A treaty is a formal recognition between sovereign entities guided by the principle of consent. But consent is given under specific conditions. Unfortunately, the treaties have been textualized in the language of the dominant European culture and we question the meaning of a treaty solely through some kind of textual analysis to ignore the fact that many treaties were negotiated in the oral tradition of Aboriginal peoples (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1995).

Fred Horse, March 14, 1975, Frog Lake Alberta (Interviewer Richard Lightening):

Lightning: Can you give me your name, age, and place of birth?

Horse: I was born here at Frog Lake, and I passed my sixty-fourth year in January. I have been raised here on the Frog Lake Reserve.

Lightning: Where did you get your information? Who told you about these things?

Horse: All the old stories I know were told to me by my father; he told me many stories. He also said that in the future the stories would be needed, the people would use them. I do not not know how he knew, but today people approach me for this information. I am under age when you compare me with older men, but they did not listen to their parents. They, too, were probably told these different things, but for that reason, when someone approaches them for information, they are unable to provide it. For me, it was different; I listened to my father; that is why I know a few of the stories.

Lightning: The term "treaty" as used by the white man, is it used in its proper context? The Indian understands it as payment of money, is that proper? Or is it a misunderstanding?

Horse: Yes, today almost everything is lost as it was promised at the treaty; it sounded very good at the time. Is that what you wanted to ask me?

Lightning: Do the terms tipahamatowin and asotamatowin mean two different things?

Horse: Yes, they are two things. Tipahamatowin means once a year, to last forever. At the beginning, fifty dollars were promised to each person; after about six years, that was reduced. They thought of a way to make the Indians believe that the money was being put aside for them. Then they received fifteen dollars per person; only the chief continued to receive fifty dollars; but the rest of the people, including the children, only received fifteen dollars. Then after about six more years, they reduced the payment again; the chief now was paid twenty-five dollars and the adults and children each received five dollars. That still exists today. The people wondered what happened to the rest of the money. They were told the money was kept at the government. Many people questioned that and today it is still the same way.

Asotamatowin referred to the land. Of that, too, nothing is seen around here. Even at my age, I have not seen anything that has anything to do with asotamatowin. The commissioner who came with the promises made it sound so good. They even made their promises in God's name (Manitou). He cheated Manitou the white man did, and all the people to whom he made the promise. The promises were great-"If I get this land, you will have some very good food on your table."

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