Elders describe maligait (natural laws) as the most fundamental laws entrenched in Inuit society that respect one’s place in the universe, the environment and in society. These laws speak to interconnectedness in the world and the spiritual supports available to aid in survival. The natural laws are best described as the core laws of relationship that govern how one connects to other people and how one connects to the environment as described previously.

The essential beliefs that underpin these relationships include:

Working for the common good

Inuit worldview is strongly grounded in social accountability and unity. All individuals have a responsibility to those around them. This includes sharing what they have, serving and caring for others and contributing to the collective well being through their efforts and activities. Working for the common good is an expectation for all ages and is central to why Inuit were such a successful society. Unity speaks to the importance of collective identity and collaboration across time.

Being respectful of all living things

Inherent in this law is the belief that there is a power greater than oneself that operates in the world. It was regarded as folly to try to set oneself up above others or in dominance to the natural world or environment. Being humble and respectful of the rights of all things helped Inuit to maintain balance in relationships.

Maintaining harmony

Living in balance and maintaining harmony were viewed as Maintaining harmony essential practices. Balanced harmony provided for the wellbeing of the group and showed respect and responsibility. If issues arose, practices were well defined for dealing with these so that harmony within a group would be quickly restored. Resiliency was highly valued and dealing with issues promptly assured that unresolved concerns would not hinder relationships with others or be passed along.

Continually planning/preparing for a better future

Strong social organizations have a clear focus on the future and on continual improvement. Inuit social teachings and child-rearing practices were directed at views of the future. The development of a good human being was central to this focus. Becoming a capable and contributing human being was an expectation for everyone. Honing skills that demonstrated excellence in one’s area of expertise and enabled each person to provide for others was a core goal in the lives of all Inuit. The ability to improve on something and to make life easier for those around you, as a result, was considered high achievement.


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