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Political & Economic Organizations - Additional Reading

Business and Politics

Justice Conflicts

Few First Nations languages include the concepts of guilt or sin.  A Choctaw-English dictionary complied in the 1800’s defined the verb sins as “to make a mistake” or “to be lost in the wilderness” – meanings quite different from those assigned to today’s criminal courts.

handcuffsMay aspects of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures are in direct conflict with the structured expectations of a courtroom.  In some cultures, looking directly at someone is considered rude and disrespectful.  In a courtroom, not meeting someone’s eyes is sometimes interpreted as an indication of guilt or untrustworthiness.

In traditional ways of handling disputes, First Nations people take responsibility for their actions and do not speak out against others. In Canadian courts, these cultural traditions often have resulted in guilty pleas and refusing to testify.  For a First Nations person operating within a traditional worldview, pleading not guilty to an offense that they committed would be lying.  In the Canadian court system, a not guilty plea is seen as an acceptable beginning to a court proceeding in which a person is innocent until proven guilty.  It is not up to individuals to confess guilt and incriminate themselves, it is up to the court to prove them guilty.