Document Type


Publication Date



indigenous peoples, Customary Law, Native Title, Domestic Law, non-indigenous law, international law


This article is based on a public lecture given by the author in spring 2007 at the Queensland University of Technology.


Indigenous people have a variety of complex relationships to law in nations such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States where non-indigenous people constitute the majority of the population. Customary law has been recognised in each of these nations as a source of domestic law, but this recognition has created various tensions. For instance, Native Title looks to customary law for its definition, but non-indigenous society demands that Native Title be managed by modern Indigenous institutions created under non-indigenous law. Issues of federalism and international law influence the interaction of Indigenous and non-indigenous law against a background of the history of particular peoples. Culture provides a framework for how each country will handle the ongoing relationship of Indigenous and non-Indigenous law.


Indian and Aboriginal Law