Living Law

\Why is the RELAW project video subtitled “Living Indigenous Law”?  This is important to understand if you want to make the paradigm shift into an Indigenous paradigm of human relationship with the natural world. Obviously one sense of the phrase is that people need to be, and want to be, living according to the principles of Indigenous Law. This is a part of “living Indigenous Law” to which Spencer Greening (Gitga’at Nation) refers when he points out that, “Understanding that the political world, the legal world, is bigger than these human-to-human relationships, when it extends to a relationship and a responsibility, an obligation to plants, animals, spiritual beings. . . ”

But Greening goes on to say: “We work with communities to learn these laws from Elders, knowledge keepers, and the land itself.” This is a far more powerful statement, and one that every Indigenous person who sees this video understands at once. It sails right past most people rooted in Western culture, however. So take a look at that statement again, about learning these laws “from Elders, knowledge keepers, and the land itself.”

Onandaga and Seneca Faithkeeper Oren Lyons refers to this important fact in a 2-and-a-half minute video clip you can find here. In “The Circle of Life is the bottom line” (2013), he says: “When we lose an Elder who carries a great deal of traditional knowledge, people say it’s gone: ‘When she died, we lost it.'” Then he smiles and reorients our thinking within the ontological reality of how the world really works: “It’s not lost,” he says. “It’s still there. It’s not lost at all.”

Questions to facilitate your conceptual weaving process:

Where does the knowledge the Elders have come from? Where does the knowledge the  knowledge keepers keep come from? If you trace it back to the original source, what is that original source?

If nature’s law is living, does it have agency? What are the implications of this matter for environmental intervention projects and their evaluation?

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