“The Doctrine of Discovery: The True Story of the Colonization of the United States of America”, new fourteen-minute video, suitable for adults, young adults, older children, and youth, invites us to follow clues to how the Doctrine of Discovery is embedded in the cultural and historical narrative of the United States. Discover why our immigration justice partners in Arizona have asked us to learn about this story and join them as allies in calling for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.
Doctrine of Discovery
Our partner organizations in Arizona have called for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. What do we need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call? This next post in our series was written by Kamila Jacob, who works in the UU United Nations Office. – Ed.
In 1452, a papal doctrine was created endorsing the conquest and exploitation of non-Christian lands and peoples. One example of the implementation of this doctrine is an event glorified in U.S. history books: Christopher Columbus sailed the seas in 1492 in search for new land. Columbus followed a doctrine that permitted him to conquer and colonize any “discovered” lands not already under Christian dominion. Upon his return home, the bull Inter Caetera of May 3, 1493 was issued by the Pope, affirming the right to conquer lands and impose Christianity.
Centuries later, in 1823, the Doctrine of Discovery was taken up in the U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v. M’Intosh and the resulting opinion adopted the notion of “discovery” into U.S. Law. The language of this decision is adapted from documents such as the bull Inter Caetera. Though some claim the court decision does not refer to religion, it states that already established native communities were properly and legally colonized because their religious and cultural practices do not follow that of those in power. Throughout our history, policies and discriminatory laws have been created from this doctrine. These policies and laws continue to exist due to ignorance of this history and lack of action to overturn the Doctrine of Discovery.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted at the UN General Assembly on September 13th, 2007, is an aspirational document, which means that it is not legally binding. It acknowledges rights such as religion, culture, and property of indigenous peoples and holds governments aspirationally responsible for the human rights of those who are indigenous. Canada signed the Declaration on November 12th, 2010, and the government pronounced that it would take steps to make this aspirational document consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws. President Obama’s signature on UNDRIP on December 16th, 2010 was recognition of past dehumanization and discrimination of Native Americans in the United States. However, implementation of this declaration will require more than just good intentions. Fully implemented, this declaration will hold leaders accountable for defending the rights of indigenous peoples.
Native Americans have been discriminated against socially, institutionally, and legislatively for hundreds of years. One aspect of this longtime discrimination has been unfair compensation for land without due process. Now that our nation is a signatory for UNDRIP, it is time for our nation to follow its provisions. (more…)
View and download the new Doctrine of Discovery discussion guide.
In January UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery on the General Assembly business agenda. The Doctrine of Discovery—the legal justification for colonizing the Americas and subordinating aboriginal people—is a narrative unfamiliar to many Americans. The Doctrine is so deeply embedded in American and Western culture that it hides in plain sight. (more…)
Our partner organizations in Arizona have called for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. What do Unitarian Universalists need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call from our partners? This third post in our series was written by the Pacific Southwest District Executive Ken Brown. – Ed.
This past August a number of Arizona Unitarian Universalists met with community people we had been working with for a number of years on issues of migration and the border. The conversation was around what our partners in Arizona would like to see happen at our General Assembly. Our partners gave us a very clear message that they would like us to pass a resolution calling on President Obama and his administration to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. When this Declaration was adopted by all but four nations in 2007, the United States was one of the four not adopting it. Three years later, in December 2010, President Obama adopted the Declaration, making the United States the last nation to sign on to this document.
Watch this video made by Tupac Enrique about Columbus from TONATIERRA, a Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples supporting local-global holistic indigenous community development initiatives in accord with the principle of Community Ecology and Self Determination.
As President Obama declared when he signed the Declaration, “What matters more than the words – what matters far more than any resolution or declaration – are actions to match those words.” (more…)
At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the General Assembly. What is the Doctrine of Discovery? Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation? How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond? For the next several weeks, Cooking Together bloggers will address these questions. This post was written by the Dave Weiman, who has been working with others to educate UUs about this issue. – Ed.
At 7:30 pm on December 3, 2009, Joy Murphy Wandin, senior woman of the Wurundjeri People, was the first person to greet the 6,000 plus people who had come together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, with this traditional ‘Welcome to the Land’:
On behalf of the spiritual ancestors and the traditional owners of Melbourne, I invite you to Melbourne in 2009, for the Parliament of the World’s Religions to share in the traditions, culture and spirit of Australia. (more…)
At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees approved a motion to include a report from their Right Relationship Monitoring Committee on the Doctrine of Discovery in their report to congregations, as well as to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the General Assembly. What is the Doctrine of Discovery? Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation? How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond? For the next several weeks, Cooking Together bloggers will address these questions. This post was written by the Rev. Colin Bossen, who was arrested on July 29, 2010 in an act of civil disobedience. He describes how he learned about the Doctrine of Discovery- Ed.
I did not go to jail expecting to meet a theologian. But jail was where I met Tupac Enrique Acosta. Tupac, like me, was arrested in front of one of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s offices for protesting against Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB1070 on July 29, 2010. Unlike me, Tupac had an analysis of the bill’s place in history that put it firmly within the context of the ongoing repression of the indigenous peoples of North America.
Tupac, who would probably reject the label theologian, is the leading figure behind the Phoenix-based Nahuacalli, an organization that describes itself as “A Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples.” He is also closely linked with Puente, the grassroots organization behind many protests against SB1070 in Phoenix, and Puente’s leader Salvador Reza. Understanding his views on SB1070 illuminates that, for some, the struggle over immigration is about something larger. (more…)