Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation attends to pressing questions of strategy and tactics in relation to Indigenous law revitalization in the context of the climate crisis. Grounded in my own W̱SÁNEĆ legal order, I provide an accounting of the context in which the resurgence of W̱SÁNEĆ law is occurring, and clarity regarding what we hope to accomplish with the revitalization of W̱SÁNEĆ (and more broadly, Indigenous) law, both locally and in response to global climate crisis. Doing so prompts questioning of the very foundations of Canadian constitutionalism, and indeed, our most basic ideologies and conceptualizations of our place and relationships within the world. From a position that our theory and methodology of Indigenous law revitalization, and our diagnosis and approaches to the climate crisis must be intricately entwined and mutually reflective, the dissertation sets out to argue that nothing short of a fundamental reimagining of our relationships within the world, and thus the social, legal, political, and economic structures those relational understandings condition, is required. Approaching such encompassing questions requires the creation of conversations across fields such as Indigenous law, critical Indigenous studies, and political ecology. Guided by W̱SÁNEĆ law and the responsibilities and obligations it entails, how might we navigate ongoing dynamics of settler colonialism and climate crisis? While some form of “decolonized” relationship with Canada seems necessary but insufficient within the context of a global climate crisis, what would actually be required to meaningfully respond and reimagine healthy relationships between all beings? Will forms of state-delegated authority, such as co-management agreements, or forms of “green capitalism”, such as market measures or carbon offsets for Indigenous-led conservation, ever suffice to address our longstanding, and yet continually unfolding, predicaments of settler colonialism and climate crisis? As I argue for a more foundational re-imagining of our relationships and place within the world, my analysis also reveals that we are not left groundless in this re-imagining as we can draw upon the wisdom and practices housed within our respective Indigenous traditions.
Clifford, Robert Justin, "The old people are the song, and we are their echo: resurgence of w̱ sáneć law and legal theory" (2022). PhD Dissertations. 79.