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Meta-principle, word bundle linguistic method, Indigenous laws, revitalization of Indigenous laws, identification, interpretation, practical implications


Building on "Five Linguistic Methods for Revitalizing Indigenous Laws," this article explains and analyses six examples of implementation of the 'meta-principle' or 'word-bundle' linguistic method for Indigenous law revitalization. The method refers to using a word in an Indigenous language that conveys an overarching, normative principle of the Indigenous group, and is the most utilized form of the five linguistic methods to date. The examples span its use by judges, public governments as well as Indigenous governments, and these actors employ different methods for identifying and interpreting the meta-principles. The variations between them reveal four categories of approaches to identifying, interpreting and implementing metaprinciples: (1) inherent knowledge of decision-maker; (2) in-court evidence; (3) official ratification; and (4) advisory bodies. There are different benefits and challenges associated with each category, and there are several lessons we can take from studying them. These examples and the categories show us that communities and their governments have real options, and precedents, to not only begin to revive their laws, but also to put them into practice.

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