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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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The Elements of Knowledge: Resistance to Categorizing Reality
Natural and Super Natural

Resistance to Categorizing Reality


Law and Landscape

Good Medicine

Social Memory

Meaning of Time

Visual representation of nature's laws

It is very difficult to constitute Indigenous Law in terms that our culture understands because Indigenous systems do not organize the world into categories of knowledge, or group data according to the same system we use. Thus we should keep Sharp’s caution regarding the Athapaskan-speaking Dene in mind at all times:

"The concept of ‘Dene thought’ or ‘Dene philosophy’ is my abstraction of Dene myth, speech, actions, explanations, and other forms of data and evidence. The Dene themselves do not systematize their thought into dogma. There are experts in inkoze, but there are no individuals licensed to create or provide authoritative versions of Dene practice. There is philosophy and there are individuals of a philosophical bent, but there is no discipline of Dene philosophy, no centralization of Dene philosophy, no official version of Dene philosophy, and no typology or natural history of Dene philosophy in Dene culture. For them to develop typologies, dogmas, or systematizations of their thought and practice would be a supremely illogical act running counter culture to the very core of the logic of Dene thought and practice" (Sharp, Non-directional time 97).

Likewise, we can say the same for Nature’s Law. In none of the three linguistic or tribal families embraced by this report do we find specialists in mores, taboos, sanctions and norms. To be sure, there are groups accorded expertise in some areas, such as the Black Dog Society among the Blackfoot, whose role was in carrying out tribal judgments concerning adultery. However, no Indigenous intellectuals articulated a systematic understanding of law, or taught a systematic body of articulation called Nature’s Law. Such a notion is really derived from Western intellectual structures and conceptual frameworks.

At the same time, we want to insist that the elements we are trying to sketch here were in place and did operate below the articulated level of Indigenous culture. There is no other way of accounting for this way of living; acknowledging the validity Nature’s Law is the only logical way of coming to terms with the kinds of legal systems in place. It is likely the only way we have of comprehending the operative principles. If our conceptual system demands the plumbing of Indigenous understanding, and the systematic articulation of its operative principles, it is quite legitimate to provide it, but we must accept that it is our way of thinking that drives this knowledge, not the Indigenous. Indigenous peoples, and in particular pre-contact peoples, would find this need very artificial and wrong-headed.

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