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12 - Indigenous Ancestors

Recognizing Legal Personality of Nature as a Reconciliation Strategy for Connective Sustainable Governance

from Strategies, Challenges, and Vulnerable Groups

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2021

Sumudu A. Atapattu
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin School of Law
Carmen G. Gonzalez
Affiliation:
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Sara L. Seck
Affiliation:
Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia) Schulich School of Law
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Summary

On the world stage there is now a suite of laws that aspire to recognize Indigenous peoples’ cultural environmental management philosophies and practices. Of international acclaim, on July 27, 2014, Te Urewera, a large forested national park in the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, became simply: Te Urewera “a legal entity” with “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person.”1 Three years later, on March 20, 2017, Aotearoa New Zealand enacted legislation giving legal personality to the country’s third longest river, the Whanganui River.2 In December 2017, it was announced that law will be enacted in the near future to recognize Mount Taranaki as a legal person “effectively giving the mountain the same protections as a citizen.”3 Legal personality of this land, river, and mountain mark a significant positive transformation for Aotearoa New Zealand’s environmental and constitutional laws. These laws provide a connective example of how western colonial law can positively forge a bridge to Indigenous laws. These resolutions are groundbreaking political solutions to constructively accept at a national level Māori Indigenous laws for knowing, caring for, and using lands and waters.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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