image of the book cover of Doing Things the Right Way

Doing Things the Right Way

Joan Ryan

$24.95 CAD / $24.95 USD (S)

182 pages, 20 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

Hardback: 189517662X

Paperback: 978-1-89517-662-9

Library PDF: 978-1-55238-328-5

May 1995

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Joan Ryan and her research team have carefully documented Dogrib traditional justice as it has been practised over the past century. Relying upon information received from the elders of Lac La Martre, Northwest Territories, they have unearthed a sophisticated body of Dogrib law, the understanding of which has important implications for contemporary ways in which the Dogrib people and the department of justice can deal with social control.

The material is organized and presented in a way that makes it accessible to both Dene and non-Dene readers alike. The methodology of the book is one of “participatory action research,” in which the community itself owned and directed the research, training, and outcomes. By exposing the very different values and legal systems of the Dene and non-Dene, this book sets the framework for the possibility of a Dene-controlled and culturally appropriate justice system. The book will be of value to those interested in native self-government, constitutional rights, and Indigenous law, as well as to all those involved with Indigneous peoples.

Joan Ryan was professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Calgary and a senior researcher with the Arctic Institute of North America.

Praise for Doing Things the Right Way: 

I would not hesitate to recommend this text to any person interested in the Dogrib people and culture area, ethnohistory, participatory action research, and aboriginal justice in Canada. Doing Things the Right Way is a good read.

—Allan L. Patenaude, Arctic

Table of Contents




Map of the Northwest Territories

Dogrib Overview


Elders Interviewed

1. Introduction

2. "Doing Things the Right Way: The Way You Were Taught"

3. Family Rules: Rules for Living Together

4. Living Politically According to the Dene Ways

5. Using the Past to Build a Better Future

6. Taking Back Control: Three Case Examples

7. Conflicts between Dogrib and Non–Dene Justice Systems

8. Conclusions and Recommendations

Reflections on Selected Literature