On March 22 and 23, 2011, community knowledge keepers and Treaty 6 territory Elders came together at Wanuskewin to discuss and identify foundational nêhiyaw wiyasowêwina (Cree laws). The result was the Cree Law Gathering Report, from which the 8 Foundational Cree Laws below are taken.
8 Foundational Cree Laws
The group identified numerous complex principles and laws. However, eight were recognized as foundational nêhiyaw wiyasowêwina (Cree laws). These would be the eight theme areas which knowledge keepers and Elders would be encouraged to share their understanding and teachings.
The following eight themes are:
- pimâtisiwin (life)
- pimâcihowin (livelihood)
- pâstâhowin (breaking laws against humans)
- ohcinêwin (breaking laws against anything other than a human)
- manâtisiwin (respect)
- miyo-ohpikinâwasowin (good child rearing)
- wahkôtowin (kinship)
- tâpowakêyihtamowin (faith, spiritual)
All eight themes were acknowledged as essential and important in nêhiyaw humanity. A human being would not exist without life (pimâtisiwin) therefore a discussion on life would be critical. Once nêhiyaw people begin a life journey, the Creator gave them a means to survive, trade or to have economic activities to provide essentials such as food, clothing etc. This would be livelihood (pimâcihowin). Without livelihood First Nations peoples would not have a way to provide for themselves and their children.
pâstâhowin and ohcinêwin are known as laws to break nêhiyaw wiyasowêwina. Understanding what these two laws mean is critical in understanding the worldview of nêhiyaw people and understanding governance through justice.
manâtisiwin (respect) cannot be spoken about without bringing wahkôtowin (kinship), miyo-ohpikinâwasowin (good child rearing) and tâpowakêyihtamowin (faith) together. All of these laws are interrelated and are profoundly connected. When you teach a child the nêhiyaw language or how to understand wahkôtowin, they will learn manâtisiwin (respect).
All of these teachings are a part of miyo-ohpikinâwasowin (good child rearing). A part of miyo-ohpikinâwasowin is teaching children tâpowakêyihtamowin (faith). tâpowakêyihtamowin is to have faith and belief in Creation as given to nêhiyaw people as a way of knowing.
When all these laws, principles and values are combined, they create peace in relationships, communities and Nations. In doing so, MLCN’s ultimate goal and objective is to reach a balance of peace to be instilled into the constitution so that the community and all who share its ideals will find peaceful relations as the guide to interact with all Nations.