Interesting that a word we take for granted—justice—would roll over like a tumbleweed, subject to interpretations.
Definitions have emerged from many quarters—from St. Augustine, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Emmanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham and Julia Kristeva—to name a few.
Today, for indigenous people, I argue the most compelling action is having a seat at the table.
If justice refers to the act of being just (morally right and fair, according to the Oxford English Dictionary), then we would expect all dimensions of rightness and fairness would be considered. And that includes indigenous perspectives.
But what occurs in daily practice is that such views are disparaged and discarded.
Take the example of a burial site in Northern California.
Builders discovered hundreds (some say thousands) of indigenous remains at what turned out to be a funeral site in Emeryville.
Anthropologists and archaeologists from local universities were asked to assess the remains and funerary objects, and one remarked the site is “crucial to understanding early cultures in California.”
Indian perspectives went unheeded and the burial site was covered with concrete and asphalt a decade ago.
An investor defended the construction, saying, “time marches on.”
Justice, in this case, is cloaked in moral relativism.
When looking at who gets to sit at the table, we also need to ask: who benefits?
Instead of preserving an indigenous burial site, city officials provided shoppers with a shiny new store: Banana Republic.
8 November Blog for National Native American Heritage Month
Photo of the burial site called the Shell Mound in the 1920s from http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Emeryville-Filmmaker-tells-story-of-forgotten-2690138.php#page-2