Aboriginal healing lodges in Canada: still going strong? Still worth implementing in the USA?

Marianne O Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Aboriginal healing lodges are a means of accommodating Aboriginal customary law in the Canadian correctional system by providing holistic culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal offenders. They combine Aboriginal healing practices with non-Aboriginal correctional practices as determined by Canadian law and Correctional Service Canada policy. Some are operated by Aboriginal Nations/organizations and some by the Correctional Service Canada. The co-optation of healing lodges through federal correctional policy is contrary to the intent of Canadian law. This combination of state disregard for the law and cultural appropriation provides lessons for Indigenous American groups contemplating more involvement in correctional services. In the USA, the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and policies regarding private prisons may help or threaten the implementation of healing lodges. In both countries, state laws and policies seem to be subverting Indigenous sovereignty but this makes healing lodges even more valuable. Just as healing lodges could enhance community capacity building in Canada, Indigenous American healing lodges could assist with community capacity-building, as well as reducing recidivism rates. Healing lodges thereby have the potential to increase indigenous sovereignty in both countries, political climate permitting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-345
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 3 2016


  • Aboriginal peoples
  • Native Americans
  • colonialism
  • corrections
  • healing lodges

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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