19th Century Manifest Destiny Policy Continues to Inflict Harm on Indigenous People

Manifest Destiny continues to inflict harm on indigenous peoples. The latest example comes from a story in Indian Country Today, which reports on the 1872 General Mining Act and how it could allow a Canadian mining company to poison the waters in the traditional territory of the Tinglit people of Alaska. Continue reading

This Day in History, Feb. 28, 1823: U.S. Supreme Court Adopts ‘Discovery Doctrine’

On this day in history, Feb. 28, 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson v. M’Intosh, effectively adopting a secular form of 15th Century Papal edicts as the basis for the relationship between the U.S. government and Native nations.

The Papal edicts provided the legal and religious justification for European explorers to claim indigenous lands on behalf of their monarchs by right of discovery. Collectively, these edicts (or bulls) are known as the Doctrine of Discovery. In Johnson v. M’Intosh, the Court wrote that the United States, as the successor nation to European monarchies, maintains those same land rights.

The United States civilized inhabitants “hold, and assert in themselves, the title by which it was acquired. They maintain, as all others have maintained, that discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title of occupancy, either by purchase or by conquest …”

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Mexico Urges Spain, Pope, to Apologize for Abuses of Colonization, and Other News

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wrote Spain’s King Felipe VI and Pope Francis seeking apologies for them for the abuses of colonialism and conquest, news outlets are reporting.

However, there are differing spins. The Guardian headline said “Mexico demands Spain apologize …” The Washington Post headline said “Mexico’s President Wants Spain to Apologize,” but cautions that the request threatens “a diplomatic row.” The Reuters offers the tepid headline: “Mexico president wants no beef with Spain, hints at other apology requests.” Continue reading

Events: Indigenous Films and Play; MMIW Presentation, World Water Day Celebration, and More!

Upcoming Events:

  • Local celebration of World Water Day, Friday, March 22
  • A Hidden Conversation: Oil Pipelines, Sex Trafficking, and MMIW, March 27
  • Documentary: The Indian System, March 28
  • Documentary: Awake: A Dream of Standing Rock, March 29
  • Documentary: Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, March 31
  • Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Anne K. McKeig speaks on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, April 5
  • Ikidowin Native Youth Ensemble performs: “We Do it for the Water” April 7
  • Documentary: DAWNLAND, cultural survival and stolen children, April 8 and 13

Details follow. Continue reading

For Indigenous Peoples, Is Full Participation in “We the People” Progress or Assimilation?

Native Leaders Offer Differing Critiques of the Doctrine of Discovery and Different Paths Forward

Steve Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) and Mark Charles (Navajo/Dutch) are both outspoken critics of the Doctrine of Discovery, an expression of Christian superiority and the forerunner to Manifest Destiny. Their critiques take them in different directions. Newcomb emphasizes that Native peoples and nations need to move toward a free, independent and sovereign existence, while Charles emphasizes moving toward indigenous equality in American society.

This clash of views came into focus after Charles made a TED Talk on the Doctrine of Discovery earlier this year and Newcomb criticized it in an editorial.

It should come as no surprise that indigenous leaders hold differing opinions. Yet as non-indigenous people look to follow indigenous leadership in truth telling and healing around dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery, such differing views create a challenge to understanding what it means to be an ally.

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Bishop Ireland’s Efforts to Colonize Minnesota with Irish Catholics, a Doctrine of Discovery Story

Archbishop John Ireland is a well known name in St. Paul. He was the first Archbishop of St. Paul and held that post for 30 years (1888–1918). The John Ireland Boulevard runs between the state Capitol and the St. Paul Cathedral.

A little know part of Ireland’s story was his successful effort to colonize parts of western Minnesota with Irish Catholics. He created the Catholic Colonization Bureau of St. Paul in 1876, just after he became a bishop here.

Taking a broader lens, Ireland’s story is about one aspect of how the Doctrine of Discovery played out in Minnesota. The Doctrine of Discovery is the forerunner of Manifest Destiny. It refers to the religious and legal justification used by Europe’s monarchs to claim and colonize lands occupied by indigenous peoples, seize their property and forcibly, convert, enslave, or remove them. The Doctrine has its roots in 15th century papal edicts.

In this 19th Century story, Minnesota lands had been cleared of indigenous people after the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. The land was now ready for colonization, and Ireland had a plan. Continue reading

This Day in History 1955: U.S. Supreme Court Uses Religious Justification to Deny Legitimate Indigenous Property Rights

On this day in history, Feb. 7, 1955, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling based on the Christian Doctrine of Discovery to deny the Tee-Hit-Ton Indians any compensation for the timber the U.S. government allowed to be sold off their lands.

In the ruling Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v. United States, the Court used 15th Century reasoning to exert domination over “an ignorant and dependent race,” treating them not as land owners but as mere tenants. These tenants, the ruling said, are allowed to stay there only “as a matter of grace” by the United States.

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