Steve Newcomb discusses the Doctrine of Discovery
As an Indigenous woman, I feel the heavy weight of history. At Standing Rock, the dual traumas of colonization and the exploitation of Grandmother Earth have collided in our battles against oil extraction and pipelines. I cannot thank you enough for your support—and I ask you to stay with us through November’s hearing on DAPL’s expansion and the planned construction of Keystone XL in 2020. Pipeline resistance must and will remain our top priority for the foreseeable future.
As Native activists, our work to reclaim our own history is also critical. That’s why we’re challenging the root legal argument behind the subjugation of so many Indigenous people, both here and around the world. The Doctrine of Discovery, a papal declaration from the 15th century, was used as a basis for Manifest Destiny and continues to haunt my people today. It was cited by a Supreme Court justice as recently as 2005.
In February of 2017 at Standing Rock, the Oceti Sakowin issued a declaration in defiance of the Doctrine’s objectives. And earlier this year, I helped the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe organize and host a Doctrine of Discovery Conference, where we brought in top experts to explore solutions. I encourage you to watch our new video, in which a world-recognized Shawnee and Lenape expert, Steve Newcomb, sits down with us to explore how the Doctrine of Discovery still allows the domination of Indigenous peoples to this day.
We also went straight to the source. In 2016, the support of friends like you helped us organize 35 organizations to submit letters to Pope Francis demanding that he overturn the Doctrine. We also met in Rome with Cardinal Peter Turkson, a progressive from Ghana who oversees social justice ministry for the Church. The Vatican knows the deeply problematic nature of the Doctrine of Discovery and is considering Indigenous communities’ desire to have it revoked.
So, we fight on many fronts. I invite you to stay tuned and reach out to our team with ideas and solutions. Together with you, we are empowered. My hope is that in 2020, we can use our collective strength to stem the tides of imperialism, colonization, environmental racism, and the climate crisis.
Wopila — thank you for your solidarity!
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859