Mar 6/97: Aboriginal Law = Respect and Consent

S.I.S.I.S. Bulletin


- posted to sovernet-l by Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty

March 6, 1997

Except for the applause at the end of it, you could have heard a pin drop during the proceedings today of Regina v. Pena et al., otherwise known as the Gustafsen Lake trial. "Wolverine," aka William Ignace, the 65 year old Shuswap elder and organic farmer charged with attempted murder for allegedly firing shots at the wheels of a pursuing 14 ton armoured personnel carrier attempting to "eliminate" him, spoke first.

In calm measured tones, speaking directly to the jury, Mr. Ignace reiterated his position that the BC court was without jurisdiction, and sketched out the important points which would be elaborated upon by his "expert witness" Dr. Bruce Clark. BC Supreme Court Justice Bruce Josephson then cautioned Clark that his testimony must be confined to areas of law and history which was relevant and been discussed with his Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) clients.

Clark began with his impressive academic credentials and testimonials by judges, lawyers, and associates as to his legal prowess, professionalism and knowledge. He then outlined the erroneous legal status quo by which the federal and provincial governments maintain that "Indian jurisdiction doesn't exist." He referred to respected traditionalists present in the gallery such as the Haida elder Lavina White, the Pascals of the Lil'wat nation, and hereditary elder Tommy Gregoire, of the Shuswap-Okanagan confederacy.

To traditionalists such as these, Clark acknowledged his understanding of law as "respect and consent" emanating from natural law. That "truth is the summit of being and justice is the application of truth to affairs." According to Clark justice as applied truth and law as applied respect, reflects the best of both the indigenous and western legal traditions. "Order achieved on any other basis is tyranny," Clark said.

Surveying the legal history of international aboriginal rights law from the Papal Bulls of the 16th century to the establishment of an "independent impartial third party tribunal," in light of the landmark Mohegans v Connecticut case, Clark arrived at the "treasonous fraudulent and genocidal" regime of the Canadian state.

Clark then gave a passionate exposition of the consequences of the "racism which is most certainly present here among us today, in this courthouse which itself sits upon a "void crown grant": a racism which is killing my clients."

In an electrifying finish, the jailed native rights lawyer read passages from the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948, and urged the members of the jury "to make the genocide stop by refusing to take part in it. Newcomers and their courts have never had jurisdiction over Indians on unceded lands." Dr. Clark is scheduled to continue his testimony on Monday.


More information on the jursidiction argument is available on the WWW:

Statement by Lil'Wat, Carmanah and Okanagan-Shuswap traditionalists:


A good introduction and summary of Clark's argument:

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