Understanding roots of conflict

Deepening our understanding of Indigenous and Western worldviews requires k̓əɬʕac̓xəntm. We look under the obvious, which sometimes takes us to the very beginning of time and the creation of the universe. The conflict between Indigenous and Western societies is rooted in divergent worldviews originating at creation times.

The origins of authority and law emerge from our unique metaphysical beliefs. In the Western Christian system, God was before all else. Through the process of Creation, God delegated authority over natural resources to humans. In the Indigenous system, Creator was also before all else. But, through the process of creation, Creator delegated authority over natural systems (including humans) to the elements of the natural system itself, such as the plants, animals and water.

In the Western construct, humans were, and continue to remain, the arbiters of law. In many Indigenous law-making constructs, the elements of the natural world (other than humans) were delegated decision-making authority. This decision-making authority extended to their own sets of relations, the Cree concept of Wahkohtowin, and to the obligations of humans to the natural world. Therefore, humans and human activities exist at the discretion of the elements of the natural world.

Reconciliation, which is fundamentally about the resolution of conflict, requires getting to that root of deeper understanding. It is only from there that we can prepare to reconcile these two different worldviews—one grounded in the assumption that humans are decision-makers and arbiters of law, and one designed to ensure human decision-making is consistent with laws and law-making processes determined by the elements of the natural world, which are the highest arbiters.

To get there as part of our Ethical Space journeys, we use a concept called the Dual Authoritative Hierarchical Framework. It equips practitioners with practical tools to recognize and remedy the inherent conflict between Indigenous and Western worldviews, helping us move towards building equitable legal and knowledge systems.

Join us at the IEI to learn more about the Dual Authoritative Hierarchical Framework and how you can advance Reconciliation by applying it to your work.

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