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Restorative Justice in Native Cultures

Eagle, Harley
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) State of Justice 3 (November). A periodic publication of Friends Committee on Restorative Justice

Harley Eagle is of Dakota and Saulteaux ancestry. He lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota among his Oglala Lakota relatives. From this indigenous perspective, and from his experiences in community work on the reservation, he writes about restorative justice in native cultures. After rehearsing some of the history of conflict between native peoples and Euro-Americans in North America and its harmful effects on native peoples, he states that it is necessary to keep in mind this historical context when practitioners engage in restorative justice work within indigenous communities. When dealing with present conflicts between people and in communities on reservations, the historical context means the conflicts often actually have a long history of family disputes that have never been healed. People involved in the conflict have forgotten traditional values, customs, and practices for dealing with conflict. Restorative approaches tap can into traditional ways, encourage native peoples, and lead to constructive results for individuals, relationships, and communities on the reservations.


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