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Subsequently published in the Native Studies Review.

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Indigenous litigation; Canadian legal history; historical method; French colonization; slavery and the law; historic legal procedure


Those interested in social history contend that social norms deserve attention due to how they impact and are affected by historical events. This subfield has contributed significantly to how larger historical mosaics are understood, and how themes specific to marginalized groups are appreciated today. By presenting the story of enslaved Indigenous woman in New France who was the first Indigenous civil litigant in Canadian history, and focusing on her representation in the colonial legal system, a number of themes emerge. Canada’s history of slavery becomes better understood, and in so doing, a challenge to social historians is presented. By examining the legal procedure applied to an Indigenous litigant’s circumstances, and then dissecting the events that followed, the strength of social norms during her time is appreciated more fully. Integrating an era’s legal doctrine into historical analysis augments the social historian’s search for society influence on the individual in history.