Traditionally, nêhiyaw (Cree) laws are shared and passed down through oral customs — stories, songs, ceremonies — using lands, waters, animals, land markings and other sacred rites. However, the loss of the languages, customs, and traditions of Indigenous peoples as a direct result of colonization has necessitated this departure from the oral tradition to record the physical laws of the nêhiyaw. McAdam, a co-founder of the international movement Idle No More, shares nêhiyaw laws so that future generations, both nêhiyaw and non-Indigenous people, may understand and live by them to revitalize Indigenous nationhood.
Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum) is a citizen of the nêhiyaw Nation, who holds a Juris Doctorate (LL.B) from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelor’s of Human Justice (B.H.J) from the University of Regina. She is a recipient of the Carol Geller Human Rights Award, Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers Award, Social Justice Award, 2014 Global Citizen Award, and has received several eagle feathers from Indigenous communities. She remains active in the global grassroots Indigenous led resistance called “Idle No More” (www.idlenomore.ca).
The text employs many Cree words, but this is done in a way that makes the meaning clear to non-indigenous readers, and there’s a glossary for those who don’t know the language.