Navajo Indians: Justice and Identity

Rami, Bénédicte (2016) Navajo Indians: Justice and Identity. [Mémoire]

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Item Type: Mémoire
Creators: Rami, Bénédicte
Directeur de recherche: Stefani, Anne
Divisions: UFR Langues, Littératures et Civilisations Etrangères > Département Etudes du Monde Anglophone (DEMA)
Diplôme: M2 Etudes anglophones
SCIENCES HUMAINES ET SOCIALES > Histoire > Histoire contemporaine
Uncontrolled Keywords: Indian, Law, Justice, Peacemaking, Restorative,
Mots-clés dans une autre langue: Amérindiens, Justice
Abstract: Les institutions judiciaires chez les indiens Navajos aujourd’hui sont le résultat d’un long processus historique qui les a d’abord soumis aux lois américaines inspirées de la justice rétributive. Après avoir réussi à mettre en place et à opérer leurs propres cours tribales selon le modèle anglo-américain, les Navajos ont également redécouvert une de leurs anciennes coutumes judiciaire, le « peacemaker » utilisant la justice réparatrice. La justice Navajos comporte ainsi de multiples facettes qui reflètent l’identité des Indiens Navajos eux-mêmes.
Résumé dans une autre langue: Historical circumstances have contributed to shape a specific Navajo judicial identity. Placed in a position of dependency after the American colonization, Diné people have endured decades of oppression. Concerning Indian justice, the U.S. government mostly took over the prerogative of maintaining law and order, deeming Navajos unable to operate a Euro-based justice model. Indians lost their territorial criminal jurisdiction, while the investigation and trial of many offenses was attributed to federal authorities. As a result, the determination of which sovereign has jurisdiction over a crime committed on the Navajo reservation continues to be very complex and has impacted the prosecution of crimes until today. This can partially explain why the Navajo Nation suffers from crime rates among the highest in the country, crimes against women reaching particularly worrying levels. The decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court have also impacted the administration of justice on reservations. Until 1980, the decisions were generally in favour of Indian tribes. But then the Court tended to interpret Indians’ rights in a more restrictive way, when revived tribal institutions tried to assert jurisdiction on unpunished crimes. This resulted in the powerlessness of Indian tribes to counterbalance the effects of federal neglect when a crime is committed by a non-Indian against an Indian. If assimilation into the dominant society is still an issue threatening Navajo judicial specificity, Navajo judges have been acting to implement the rediscovery of a more traditional way to achieve justice. Following the movements of Indian activism, the Navajo Peacemaking Court was created in 1982 to propose an alternative system of justice rooted in Navajo ancestral values, more interested in restoring hoz’ho, harmony, than the retributive justice system. Relying on Navajo Creation myths, the institution of peacemaking has been a way for Diné people to reconnect with original dispute resolution methods, based on restorative justice practices.