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Indigenous Law / Indigenous Legal Traditions

This guide looks at Indigenous legal traditions created by Indigenous legal orders.

What is Indigenous Law?

Choose a starting point for learning about Indigenous Law and Legal Traditions.

This page is divided into three starting points, choose any to begin:

  1. Recommended readings
  2. Indigenous Law Resources from ILRU
  3. Videos

Illustration by Aftab Erfan (Whole Picture Thinking) June 2016. Drawn for the "Indigenous Laws for Resource Stewardship: A Gathering of Nations" organized by TNC Canada in collaboration with Indigenous Law Research Unit UVic Faculty of Law, West Coast Environmental Law, Mandell Pinder LLP, Coastal Stewardship Network (Coastal First Nations - Great Bear Initiative) and the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance.

Methodology section credit: Dr. Val Napoleon and Dr. Hadley Friedland

Source of Law section credit: Dr. John Borrows, with adaptations by Dr. Val Napoleon

Starting Point - Recommended Readings

Starting point: Recommended readings

Val Napoleon, “What is Indigenous Law?” online: (2016).

John Borrows, "Sources and Scope of Indigenous Legal Traditions" ch. 2 in Canada's Indigenous Constitution, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010) at 23.  Law Library KIB190 B673 2010

Val Napoleon and Hadley Friedland "An Inside Job: Engaging with Indigenous Legal Traditions Through Stories"  (2016) McGill LJ Journal 61:4 at 725 online.

Aaron Mills, "The Lifeworlds of Law; on Revitalizing Indigenous Legal Orders Today" (2016) 61:4 McGill LJ at 847 online.

Hadley Friedland & Val Napoleon, “Gathering The Threads: Developing a methodology for researching and rebuilding Indigenous legal traditions” (2015) 1:1 Lakehead LJ 17 online.

Starting Point - ILRU resources

Starting point: Prepared for learning about Indigenous Law is the Indigenous Law Resources page of the Indigenous Law Research Institute (ILRU) at the UVic Faculty of Law.

Indigenous Law Resources



Starting Point - ILRU Indigenous Law Videos

Starting point: Videos. ILRU's Indigenous Law Video on demand page 


Please take time to view the three short education videos embedded below  to hear about about Indigenous Law from those working in this area.  For more information about these videos and links to interviews with legal scholars. link back to ILRU's Resources page.


  1. Indigenous law: an introduction;  (6:42 min)
  2. Indigenous law, gender, and sexuality; (10:23 min)
  3. Indigenous law: tough questions. (9:44) min


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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.