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Punishment vs. Healing: How Does Traditional Indian Law Work?

Zion, James W
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) In Wanda D. McCaslin, ed., Justice as Healing: Indigenous Ways. Writings on Community Peacemaking and Restorative Justice from the Native Law Centre. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press. Pp. 68-72.

“Whereas Western law is based on punishment, Indian law is based on healing. The problem with many contemporary justice initiatives directed at Indians is that they are integrationist and ultimately assimilationist. Assimilation is a genocidal and ethnocidal force that is not yet prohibited by human rights law, but it should be. Indian justice works because it heals. It should not be taken captive by a legal system based on force, as with circle sentencing dominated by a judge or family group conferencing directed by a non-Indian police officer. Indian justice should stand on its own, and if the Western systems of power, force, and authority wish to utilize Indian methods in their own way, they should do so.” (excerpt)


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