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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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The Elements of Knowledge: Indigenous Law and the Meaning of Time
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 not sufficient to acknowledge that some very basic values operated differently in Indigenous culture…we must also come to terms with the concept of evidence. Much of our awareness of evidence privileges the first expression. It is very important to Western notions of reality that we determine what the origin of something is, for then we are convinced that we have discovered the "real" meaning of an phenomenon. From this conviction of the primacy of the first place in antiquity, we have constructed a civilization that idolizes the past…Christianity, for example, finds the story of the Garden of Eden so convincing that it has come to believe that all people have a sinful flaw brought about by the first ancestors eating a forbidden fruit. Concepts of history are built upon these models of the past and current issues are "explained" by reference to the past. Yet the notion of a past has implications for how time will be experienced, and Indigenous peoples’ stories do not place the same stress on the historical past and the earth’s origins as we do. We need to keep in mind Ross’ insight about Mi’kmaq language, for it has a bearing on the perception of time among these Algonquian-speaking peoples; the point is also evident among other language systems:

"The use of verbs rather than noun subjects and objects is important; it means that there are very few fixed and rigid objects in the Mi’kmaq worldview. What they see is the great flux, external transformation, and an interconnected order of time, space and events" (Ross, Returning 115).

Consequently, time is oriented to the creation and development of new perspectives and openness to other interpretations. Chamberlin may be correct in his argument that…"the remedy for the dispossession of Indigenous historical discourses, and therefore of Indigenous history, may ultimately lie less in recovering the realities of the past than in encouraging the imagination of those who will shape the stories in the present." (1999, 85) Were this stance to be taken seriously, it is obvious that our courts of law would necessarily have to adjust the process of justice, as well as the primacy it gives to the history of a person from a judicial perspective, for this perspective on time seems to be of seminal importance in comprehending the Indigenous sense of Nature’s Law, for if a shift were to take place in the reading of past acts, inserting them rather into other patterns of behaviour, then understanding Indigenous claims would make much more sense.

At the very least, Nature’s Law is much less committed to privileging one kind of understanding about time’s meanings.

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