Doctrine of Discovery Documentary to be Released Sept. 4; This Day in History: The Doty Treaty

“The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code,” the amazing result of a collaboration between filmmaker/Director Sheldon Wolfchild and Co-Producer Steven Newcomb, will be officially released Friday, Sept. 4 and available for purchase.

The Saint Paul Interfaith Network/Healing Minnesota Stories has partnered with Wolfchild to show the film in several Twin Cities venues during the past year, including Hamline University, Grace Lutheran Church/Apple Valley, Church of All Nations in Columbia Heights, Unity Unitarian in St. Paul, and Cherokee Park United in St. Paul. It has been very well received.

The film, based on Steven Newcomb’s book Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Domination Code (Fulcrum, 2008), focuses on the little known Doctrine of Discovery, the justification by which the church purported to give European monarchs a right to claim and assert a right of domination over “discovered” non-Christian lands to the west. The “right of discovery” granted by the church was later adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1823 in the case Johnson & Graham’s Lessee v. M’Intosh. The film discusses how the Doctrine of Discovery  remains the law of the land and its implications today.

The film features interviews with Newcomb and theologian Luis Rivera, author of A Violent Evangelism: The Religious and Political Conquest of the Americas (2008).

A trailer and more details are available on Wolfchild’s website 38 plus 2 Productions where you can pre-order a copy of the DVD.

This Day in History: The Doty Treaty, July 31, 1841

An 1841 treaty negotiated with the Dakota but never ratified by the U.S. Senate nearly created a permanent Indian Territory in what is now Minnesota. According to a summary on the website,

James Doty, the governor of Wisconsin Territory, fashions a treaty intended to provide a permanent home west of the Mississippi River for the Dakota, the Ho Chunk and other tribes. Tracts of land are to be set aside for each band on the west bank of the Mississippi; each tribe is to have a school, agent, blacksmith, gristmill and sawmill. The initial treaty is negotiated with the Sisseton, Wahpeton and Wahpekute bands; negotiations with the Mdewakanton collapse. The United States does not ratify the treaty.

According to the History of the Santee Sioux: United States Indian Policy on Trial, by Roy Willard Meyer, the Dakota agreed to the first of two treaties on July 31, 1841. The plan to create an Indian territory failed in large part due to opposition from expansionist U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. “[I]t is evident that Benton’s real reason for opposing the treaty was that it would have locked up a valuable tract of country for the Indians instead of opening it to white settlement,” Meyer wrote.


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