Nêhiyaw Âskiy Wiyasiwêwina: Plains Cree Earth Law and constitutional/ecological reconciliation




Lindberg, Darcy

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I set out on this research concerned with human relations to the ecological world, and the role of law in these relationships. As one theory of nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) law and constitutionalism enables strong kinship relations between the nêhiyawak and non-human beings and things, I explore how nêhiyaw law can be revitalized to reconcile our land relationships. Wâhkôtowin, or the overarching principle that governs our relations, ensures that wellness and good living –miyo pimâtisiwin – is not only a human objective, but shared intersocietally with non-human relations and entities. This dissertation examines the constitutive role that four areas of Plains Cree livelihood – nêhiyaw âcimowina (narrative processes), nêhiyaw âskiy (Plains Cree territory and territoriality), nêhiyawewin (Plains Cree language) and nêhiyaw mamâhtâwiwina (Plains Cree ceremony) – play in ensuring such good living. Taking a ‘law as weaving’ approach’, these areas and institutions form a web to support kind relations to our environments and ecologies. Treaties provide an integral avenue to revitalize the uses of nêhiyaw law in our land relations. Canadian constitutionalism’s primary focus on human-to-human relations, without constitutional consideration of the agency of the ecological world, has had harmful effects on the wellness of non-human beings and things. When we apply the legal and constitutive principles within Plains Cree law and constitutionalism to Treaty 6, they obligate both the Crown and peoples within Canada in the same manner.



Indigenous Law, Plains Cree Law, Indigenous Environmental Law, Indigenous Constitutionalism, Nêhiyaw Law, Plains Cree Ecological Relationships