Storytelling has the capacity to address feelings and demonstrate themes – to illuminate beyond argument and theoretical exposition. In Otter’s Journey, Borrows makes use of the Anishinaabe tradition of storytelling to explore how the work in Indigenous language revitalization can inform the emerging field of Indigenous legal revitalization. She follows Otter, a dodem (clan) relation from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, on a journey across Anishinaabe, Inuit, Maori, Coast Salish, and Abenaki territories, through a narrative of Indigenous resurgence. In doing so, she reveals that the processes, philosophies, and practices flowing from Indigenous languages and laws can emerge from under the layers of colonial laws, policies, and languages to become guiding principles in people’s contemporary lives.
Lindsay Keegitah Borrows is a staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law in Vancouver. She is Anishinaabe and a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation in Ontario. Each fall in her home territory she helps run land-based Indigenous legal education camps for Ontario law schools. She has been a researcher at the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Court in Arizona, the United Nations, and the University of Victoria Indigenous Law Research Unit. She is a recipient of the Law Foundation of British Columbia Public Interest Award.
[T]he evocative language which Borrows offers in her telling of the creation story in her introduction, in her enmeshing of the realities of language revitalization in Canada and New Zealand in Chapter Three, and especially, I find, in her experiences in the Salish Sea in Chapter Five, talking with Raven, serves to make real for me as a reader the power of the stories as conduits to ecologically, linguistically, and legally precise truths.