Rooted Constitutionalism

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2021 • Volume 1 • Issue 1

Rooted takes its name, with gratitude, from Anishinaabe scholar Aaron Mills and his formulation of ‘rooted constitutionalism.’ To Mills, all constitutionalisms are situated within their respective lifeworlds – the sum of the stories that we tell to explain and situate ourselves within what surrounds us and within our own experience. As Mills explains, Indigenous laws are not only different to Canadian (liberal) constitutional orders, but are “different in kind,” at the level of lifeworlds. As such, efforts to articulate Indigenous law within dominant liberal paradigms risk distorting and erasing the lifeworlds in which these legal orders are based. In this issue, Mills writes:

In distinguishing between constitutional kinds, I prefer to speak of rooted constitutionalism and not indigenous constitutionalism. Thus I’d say that Anishinaabe constitutionalism is a species of the rooted constitutional kind. I make this discursive choice precisely to place the emphasis where it ought to be: on the kind of constitutionalism at issue, and not on the identity of the subjects who bear it.

See Aaron Mills, “A Preliminary Sketch of Anishinaabe (a Species of Rooted) Constitutionalism” in this issue.

With this in mind, Rooted – and particularly, this special issue on rooted constitutionalism – offer readers an invitation to engage with Indigenous constitutional orders. In this issue, you will find explorations of Anishinaabe (Aaron Mills), Nêhiyaw (Darcy Lindberg), Métis (Kerry Sloan), and Mi’kmaw (Sákéj Henderson and Jane McMillan) constitutionalisms.

Only by engaging with Indigenous constitutions and lifeworlds can we move forward, collectively, towards revitalizing Indigenous systems of law within their own constitutional frameworks. We hope that Rooted will play a role not only in making space for Indigenous law and perspectives in law schools and universities, but also beyond these spaces, out in the wider world. 

Table of Contents

Cover art by Isabelle Zwicker

Editorial Note by Larissa Parker & Sarah Nixon

Aaron Mills, “A Preliminary Sketch of Anishinaabe (a Species of Rooted) Constitutionalism”

Isaac Murdoch, “Nenaboozhoo”

Darcy Lindberg, “Excerpts from Nêhiyaw Âskiy Wiyasiwêwina: Plains Cree Earth Law and Constitutional/Ecological Reconciliation”

Kerry Sloan, “Dancing the Nation”

James (Sákéj) Youngblood Henderson, “Mi’kmaw version of rooted constitutionalism”

Isaac Murdoch, “Nishke, mtig deh daa aan”

Jane McMillan, “Rooted in Mi’kma’ki: Living L’nu Constitutionalism”