Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Episcopal Church repudiates Doctrine of Discovery

From Indian Country Today "ANAHEIM, Calif. – In a first-of-its-kind action in the Christian world, the national Episcopal Church has passed a landmark resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and urging the U.S. government to endorse the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Organizers of the bill hope it will lead to the overturning of a 19th century U.S. Supreme Court ruling and Congress’ assumption of plenary power over Indian nations they say are illegitimate and immoral, and continue to strip American Indian nations of their inherent sovereignty."

The "Discovery Doctrine", also known as "The Doctrine of Christian Discovery", is a concept based on Papal Bulls from the 15th century giving Christian nations legal title to all parts of the world populated and governed by "saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ" This meant that land "discovered" by Christians belonged to the government of the discoverer, not the people who were already living there when it was "discovered". This doctrine was enshrined in US law by the Supreme Court decision Johnson v. M'Intosh . This decision is the legal basis for everything the US Government has done to Native Americans since 1923. An excellent article on the history of the Discovery Doctrine by Steve Newcomb can be found here

The Episcopal Church is to be commended for bringing this issue to public attention.

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