News Wrap: Pow Wows, National Catholic Reporter ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ Series, Treaty Rights Update

There are two upcoming pow wows on the weekend of Sept. 12-13.

Click on the links for more.

National Catholic Reporter Shines Light on the Doctrine of Discovery and its  ‘Shocking Cruelty’

Cudos to the National Catholic Reporter for launching a six-part series called “The Trail of History,” which puts the spotlight on the harm done to Native Americans by the Catholic Church and Americans in general. In particular, the series focuses on the Doctrine of Discovery, Papal bulls (or edicts) issued back in the 1400s that gave European monarchs the religious and legal justification to take lands from Native peoples and subjugate them.

The Editor’s Note to the series reads:

It may seem like papal statements from 500 years ago are ancient history. But Native American activists and scholars insist that Catholicism’s past continues to affect the present. Papal bulls from the 1400s condoned the conquest of the Americas and other lands inhabited by indigenous people. The papal documents led to an international norm called the Doctrine of Discovery, which dehumanized non-Christians and legitimized their suppression by nations around the world, including by the United States. Now Native Americans say the church helped commit genocide and refuses to come to terms with it.

The first article in the series is headlined: Intergenerational Grief on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.  It gives the following context for the Papal bulls.

In 1493, one such bull, the pronouncement Inter Caetera, granted Spain “full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind” over non-Christian people in the new land. It declared that “the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”

This bull and others like it gave license to the domination of native peoples, arguing that because they were not Christian, they lacked human rights. Instead of being encountered like human beings, native people were said to have been “discovered,” like some new species of animal.

The article goes on to highlight the crushing poverty and despair on the reservation and connects it back to the Doctrine of Discovery.

Deep psychological wounds hammer life in Cheyenne River today. The wounds may appear fresh, but are in fact quite old — originally inflicted at a time when the doctrine and its thinking permeated the effort to deal with America’s “Indian problem.”

The second article, published today (Tuesday), is titled: Boarding Schools: A Black Hole of Native American History. It discusses how boarding schools — an effort “Westernize” and “Christianize” Native American children — were an outgrowth of the Doctrine of Discovery. Many contend the boarding schools were a collusion between church and state, “to stamp out Native American identity, affecting generations of children,” the article said.

To follow subsequent stories in the series, click on: “The Trail of History.”

Treaty Rights Protest Also Targets Mining, Pipeline Expansion

The Twin Cities Daily Planet offers an interesting insight into the Ojibwe treaty rights protest in northern Minnesota. We wrote earlier how protesters both harvested wild rice and fished outside the reservation without a state permit. They were successful in getting citations–exactly what they wanted to pursue a court challenge. The new twist from the Daily Planet story is a quote from Frank Bibeau, an attorney for the protesters, who said: “We were intentionally looking to target a lake along the pipeline corridor,” a reference to the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline.

The article discusses the group’s concern about the impact that current and future mines and pipelines have on lakes and rivers.

“We are not just talking about the pipeline but also about mining–there’s quite a bit of pollution,” says Robert DesJarlait. “There’s a 140-mile stretch of the St. Louis River which are wild rice dead zones because of all the sulfates, and now they want a copper mine. Our wild rice will be affected by the pipeline and the mines,” he said. “… wild rice is a sacred plant to us. It’s a spiritual issue and a cultural issue.” For many, harvesting wild rice doesn’t make a whole lot of money–maybe enough to provide clothing for their kids. “Nobody gets rich off it,” he said.

Check out the article by Sheila Regan. It has some excellent photos, too.









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