Harold Cardinal holds an LLB (USaskatchewan), LLM (UHarvard) and a PhD in Law (UBC). Cardinal was a lifelong student of First Nations law as practiced by Cree Elders. This has been complemented by extensive study of law in mainstream educational institutions. He was also a generous mentor and inspiration to a very great many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, professionals and political leaders.
At age 23 he was elected leader of the Indian Association of Alberta for an unprecedented nine terms, during which he was instrumental in the formation of the National Indian Brotherhood (Assembly of First Nations). Cardinal then served as Chief of Sucker Creek First Nation and as the Vice Chief of the Assembly of First Nations during the period of the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in the early 1980s. Cardinal was instrumental in the creation, in 1984, of the Prairie Treaty Nations Alliance, representing all First Nations of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, to advance issues of concern to those First Nations with particular emphasis on their treaties with the Crown.
The Unjust Society: the Tragedy of Canada's Indians (Mel Hurtig Publishers, 1969; republished Douglas & McIntyre, 1999), The Rebirth of Canada's Indians (Mel Hurtig Publishers, 1977), Alberta elders' Cree dictionary = Alperta ohci kehtehayak nehiyaw otwestamâkewasinahikan by Nancy LeClaire & George Cardinal ; edited by Earle Waugh ; Cree consultants, Emily Hunter, Earle H. Waugh, and Harold Cardinal (University of Alberta Press, 1998), Treaty elders of Saskatchewan : our dream is that our peoples will one day be clearly recognized as nations (with W. Hildebrand.) (University of Calgary Press, 2000)