May 5, 2014 - The Native Rights Based Approach – How Deep is that Wapus Hole Anyways? by Clayton Thomas-Muller

Every Native lawyer here in Canada, faces the immense challenge of not becoming indoctrinated into the way of thinking that law school imposes. Instead, you must strive to maintain your integrity and also to protect your heart. Once you have mastered this, in a methodical and disciplined manner, you must seek out the intersections were you can advance the original instructions of your Peoples. Part of this work must be done using the existing common law frameworks to deconstruct colonial controls/barriers that are blocking the emergence of a legal paradigm that recognizes and enforces the rights of Mother Earth.

I see the Native rights based approach as part of a short/mid term strategy that our Peoples social movements utilize to usher in a new legal paradigm that is based on original instructions. A system of governance that bring us as a peoples into balance with the sacred, and most importantly a system that reinforces our connection to the sacred force of creation that comes from our Women. We must base all legal strategies on reinforcing this system of governance in our bodies of politics, economics as well as our social and spiritual customs and ways. That is in my mind part of the work of the Native lawyer and all of us involved in this decolonization and reconciliation work in defence of our Mother Earth and those that depend on her for their livelihood.

In the next couple years we will see the emergence of the original treaty and traditional knowledge brought forth by carefully selected “keepers” who were tasked with hiding and keeping safe our sacred original instructions. This knowledge includes understanding of the original spirit and intent of our ancestors when they signed into Treaty. These teachings have not been lost, they have been hidden, and when they are brought forward again our movement needs to elevate that information. Especially in our offensive against the ongoing colonial occupation of our lands and waters. We must popularize these teachings en masse, targeting our youth and securing the meaningful engagement of our Elders thru creative education campaigns and ceremony in each of our communities.

Clayton Thomas-Muller is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation.

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