Laws may be written or unwritten. The Constitution of Britain, for example, is not written. In Canada, some laws are statutory, others are “Common Law.” The laws of Indigenous Peoples around the world are often referred to as “Nature’s Laws.”
The spiritual dimension of existence is always operative in Indigenous culture. Spiritual concepts were expressed in terms of “truths” and “laws” and people were expected to act according to these laws in every aspect of their daily life. In other words, the laws were meant to be “lived” rather than “obeyed.” Such “living-out” of Nature’s Laws promoted a balanced healthy and well-rounded community.
Nature’s Laws are highly interwoven and like nature itself, are a holistic entity. It is possible to view this holistic entity from different angles in order to see special dimensions and relationships. These angles or lenses include:
Spiritual Life, Traditions, Culture, Governance, Resources and Context and Background.
The concept of a holistic approach in which the collective or “common good” of all is a goal that may remind us of our own Catholic Social Teachings. The value of the family both biological and of the larger community is a part of Nature’s Laws. As Vincentians this holistic systemic approach to our efforts is compatible with Nature’s Laws and is a topic we should consider learning more about in our efforts to be more “Vincent like.” While the introduction of “white man’s laws” along with various plans to destroy Indigenous history, laws and culture has severely affected so many Indigenous Peoples living on Turtle Island ( North America), Nature’s Laws have endured and continue to experience a re-growth within Indigenous society. There is no better time than now for all of us to experience this concept.
The Nature’s Laws Project is based in Alberta in collaboration with the Heritage Community Foundation and members from First Nations Treaty 6,7, and 8 territories. I would encourage you to explore the Nature’s Laws link to learn more about this Indigenous initiative. The University of Alberta also maintains archival resources.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian Vincentian. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
I respectfully acknowledge the traditional, unceded territories of the Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, on which lands we meet, work and live.