Volume 19, 1999
Robert H. Craig
A Native American Perspective on Law, Justice and Community
A vision of law and justice that is rooted in relationality stands at the heart of this paper. To tribal people, such as the Lakota and Dakota, what sustains the lives of people are bonds of kinship relations that bind human and nonhuman life together with a sense of mutual responsibility and caring that is most aptly captured by the Lakota phrase Mitakuye Oysain, "all are relatives." What are important to tribal communities are collective rights and obligations as embodied in Indian law and justice. Indian societies, thereby, have established their own tribal courts and legal systems that are markedly different from mainstream society. Indian people, it is argued, have much to teach about the limitations of the dominant legal culture and ways in which relationality serves a far better basis for law and justice than an adversarial system that demands winners and losers.