Skip to Main Content

Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Laws

What is Indigenous Law?

"Indigenous law consists of legal orders which are rooted in Indigenous societies themselves. It arises from communities and First Nation groups across the country, such as Nuu Chah Nulth, Haida, Coast Salish, Tsimshian, Heiltsuk, and may include relationships to the land, the spirit world, creation stories, customs, processes of deliberation and persuasion, codes of conduct, rules, teachings and axioms for living and governing."

--Estella White (Charleson) - Hee Naih Cha Chist, "Making Space for Indigenous Law" 

Sources of Indigenous Law

Indigenous law, the legal traditions, customs, and practice of Indigenous peoples, nations, and communities, can come from a wide variety of sources. It is important to recognize that just as there are many different nations and communities of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, there are just as many Indigenous laws and legal traditions. To reflect this, this guide will include sections on the different Indigenous peoples geographically close to Mi'kma'ki and the Maritimes. The guide is a work in progress, and at present focuses on resources relating to Indigenous law generally as well as the laws and legal  traditions of the Mi'kmaq, specifically in Nova Scotia.

Some laws and legal traditions are also closed practices, with information kept within their specific communities. It is important to be respectful of traditional knowledge and to conform to the protocols around this knowledge.