Native American Indigenous Legal System

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Legal systems and cultures are intertwined in such a way that allows them to influence one another. While most Western countries focus on top-down approaches that result in changing culture and behavior, others have concentrated their efforts to make the law reflect the culture and values of the people. In the past, when common law heavily influenced tribal courts, tribe members worked towards the preservation of traditions. Now in the modern age, tribes are working to conserve the unity of their people by using programs that center on tradition to bring forth a community. One tribe that has adopted such a program enhanced aboriginal’s Cody Kimewon understanding of his identity through a culture as cause, law as effect approach. Had he not…show more content…
Rather than focusing on instilling a law that would change the behavior of people, i.e. sentencing youth to jail in hopes of them changing their law-breaking ways, the tribal system used their culture as the basis for instilling change and created a program that reflected their indigenous values. Cody’s connection to his tribe grew and although not raised knowing what a native was, knowing he was one and having a support group to teach him was a driving force towards succeeding in the program. Indigenous legal systems have been known for their unconventional ways of dealing with offenders that do not seek to gain compensation for any wrongdoing. If Cody would have been left to the process of the Canadian justice system, there would not have been any remorse from his part, he would wallow in his punishment. However, the traditional tribal way is to work with the offender because crimes can be explained through the tribe’s cultural norms. This process had a positive effect on Cody, even though he slipped from the program several times, he was still accepted back and continued to educate himself on his cultures and gain a deeper purpose. Apaches claim the “desire to reintegrate the individual back into tribal society” and that is exactly what was done with…show more content…
Cody was aware of his roots and although raised by white foster parents, he used the program to gradually interact with his culture and “live according to indigenous values.” The tribal program was not imposing itself on his culture, rather it used Cody’s lack of aboriginal culture to find a unique way to teach tradition and law. This program was effective on Cody because his tribe found a way that allowed them to resolve the problem of one of their own without relying on the Canadian justice system (Vicenti, 137). The connection between the two, although not strong at first, was instrumental in the accomplishment of diverging Cody from a life of crime. Similarly to tribal court practices, the alternative justice program depends on people’s ability to associate themselves to the values promoted (Joh,122). If a non-aboriginal youth tried to integrate himself into the program it would have no substance because the program would work as a law as cause, culture as effect approach. They would not be culturally connected to the aboriginal group, the powwows would be interesting, but nothing within would resonate with

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