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Peacemaking and Community Harmony: Lessons (and admonitions) from the Navajo Peacemaking Courts

Winfree Jr, L. Thomas
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) In, Elmar G.M. Weitekamp and Han-Jurgen Kerner, Restorative Justice: Theoretical Foundations. Deon, UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 285-307.

Proponents of restorative justice have sought its roots in a myriad of traditions, including those of aboriginal peoples and cultures. Some even claim that restorative justice has been the dominant model of criminal justice for traditional societies throughout history. Similar to this perspective, Winfree states that many aboriginal cultural practices address the restoration of harmony or peace within a community. At the same time, he points out that such practices contain cautionary elements largely ignored by proponents of restorative justice and aboriginal approaches to conflict and wrongdoing. Therefore, Winfree argues for a more complete understanding of restorative justice in terms of the indigenous ideas and values that originate, support, and orient indigenous practices. Toward this end, he discusses key lessons derived from the restorative practices of the Navajo Nation in the American Southwest. Winfree grounds Navajo Peacemaker Courts in Western and aboriginal legal thinking, and he reflects on the promises and admonitions inherent in this unique restorative justice practice.


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