Manito Aki Inakonigaawin was officially written and ratified by Elders of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 in 1997. On April 22 and 23, and July 31, 1997, an Elders gathering was held in Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung at Manito Ochi-waan. The Elders brought the written law through ceremony, where the spirits approved this law and respectfully petitioned the National Assembly to adopt it as a temporal law of the Nation. In the spring of 1997, a traditional validation process was held through a shake-tent ceremony.
Although it is now written in English, the authoritative version of Manito Aki Inakonigaawin lives in ceremony. No human decision is greater than spirit, therefore ceremony is an integral process to following Manito Aki Inakonigaawin. Since the law was formally written in 1997, it has helped uphold inherent and Treaty rights, and create a Nation based law-making process in the territory. Manito Aki Inakonigaawin is written within and throughout nature- its spirit is within all living things on earth – from you, to the animals, to the trees, and to the air that we breathe. It is the natural law that governs the natural cycles of life. Manito Aki Inakonigaawin has its own spirit, as it itself is also living.
The law is eco-centric, which means the law considers and acknowledges that it’s not only human beings that live on this land, but ALL things on Earth possess spirit and life. Manito Aki Inakonigaawin is based not only on rights- but also on the responsibilities we have as a collective to care for Mother Earth. The law is guided by Treaty #3 Communities in Treaty #3 Territory and supports the collective rights of the Nation as a whole, while affirming jurisdiction of Anishinaabe laws and respecting the jurisdictions held by Treaty #3 Communities. Manito Aki Inakonigaawin helps to provide a law-making (regulatory decisions/approvals/certificates/permits) process and is centered on the inherent relationship to Mother Earth.
Although the law was given to the Anishinaabe at the beginning of time, it’s important to understand that the responsibility to protect and respect Mother Earth doesn’t solely depend on Anishinaabe people – the law represents the collective duty of us all to protect Mother Earth.
To understand how the Anishinaabe Nation of Treaty #3 can continue respecting and upholding Manito Aki Inakonigaawin and the Nibi Declaration, a team of knowledge keepers, researchers, and GCT #3 staff worked to develop the Pathways Forward Report. The Report drew from input shared in interviews and focus groups with knowledge holders, discussions with GCT #3 staff, and community surveys. Existing documents were examined as well, to support the knowledge being shared by survey and engagement participants.
Each voice shared challenges, concerns, and solutions related to holding up Manito Aki Inakonigaawin and the Nibi Declaration. It was crucial to document input on these foundational laws that guide the Anishinaabe in Treaty #3 in maintaining relationships with lands, waters, and all living beings from the earth to the sky.