Learning Indigenous Law: Reflections on Working with Western Inuit Stories

Rebecca Johnson, Lori Groft

Abstract


Many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action focus on the need for Canadians to learn about Indigenous law. We are of the view that such learning is best done in the context of established partnerships with knowledge keepers from specific Indigenous legal orders. While such partnerships are ideal, challenges of both funding and distance make it inevitable that partnerships are not always possible. Our hope is that at some point there will be as many resources for teaching and learning Indigenous law as there are for Canadian law. But until then, we still need to develop the skills of legal literacy (familiarity with stories, practices of engagement, contexts, and legal theories) necessary to facilitate meaningful engagement with a multiplicity of Indigenous legal orders. In this paper, we participate in the larger conversation about ways that settler scholars can begin learning how-to-learn about Indigenous law from Indigenous resources. In particular, we share some observations about our attempts to use an adapted case briefing methodology to begin learning about Inupiaq law from published and publicly accessible Inupiaq stories.

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