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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Western Use of Language



Variety of 'Sacred' Moments

Dominance of
the Pipe

Meanings of
Sacred Pipe

Western Use of Language


Other Ways
of Speaking
and Knowing


Visual representation of nature's laws

Nature's Law is held to have Ritual Law as part of its central concern, because Ritual Law is held to reflect the nuances of the Peoples' perceptions…in other words, where public discourse in English in present-day North America may be directed by communications technology such as computers, radio and TV, ritual validation of language in traditional societies determined the use of terms. This militates against us using our translated terms to define ritual usage. For example, Talamantez is an anthropologist that has studied Mescalero language and spent years among the Apache people, yet when she reports to us of the rituals carried on among the Apache, she has to lapse back onto our language to convey what she has found. Pesantubbee, an Indigenous scholar herself points out the problem:

Whether the ceremony is referred to as a "feast" or as a "dance" shifts the attention from one meaning or emphasis to another. The feast references the concluding meal of the four-day ceremony and embodies ideas of communal cooperation and social gathering. Dance, on the other hand, focuses on the rite of passage of the young girl and her importance to the well being of the community. The distinctions are complicated by the tendency of men to use "feast" and women "dance." Is this a factor of Mescalero culture or of western ideologies.(11)

Some would want to dismiss this as semantics, but we can see that raises very real legal issues. Is a powwow a religious or secular event? If an act committed during a powwow is claimed to be religious, does the fact that it is done during what some would say is a purely "entertaining" dance determine the culpability? The Indigenous community in the United States has had to deal with this issue pointedly in the ceremonies associated with the American Indian Church, where the use of peyote as part of the ceremony was originally considered illegal. What allows a ceremony to be part of Ritual Law, while another is not? What jurisdiction does English or French language courts over rituals whose terms may not be directly translatable?

Throughout this writing we have often used the word "power." Yet it is not defined anywhere, for the very use of the word conjures up certain conceptions to readers. Some Indigenous people may be quite mystified by the use of the word "power", since what they experience may be much closer to a sublime sense of beauty. Suffices to say that how one depicts these realities implies more than its surface use might indicate.

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