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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Lutheran Church (ELCA) Moves Towards Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery; Native Leaders Meet Pope

ELCAThe Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has voted overwhelmingly to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and has asked the national ELCA church body to do the same.

The Minneapolis Synod Assembly met May 6-7. By a show of cards (green for yes and red for no), one observer said there were only a handful or red cards out of more than 500 total votes on the Doctrine of Discovery memorial. It reads in part:

Resolved, that the 2016 Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly explicitly and clearly repudiates the European Christian-derived “doctrine of discovery” and its continuing impact upon tribal governments and individual tribal members to this day, acknowledges the unearned benefits this church has received from the evils of colonialism in the Americas, [and] repents of this church’s complicity in this doctrine …

The memorial continues, asking the church’s national body — called the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly — to join with the other major denominations that already have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Episcopal Church, The United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church and The Moravian Church.

Here is the full text of the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod Memorial.

Bob Hulteen, director of communications and stewardship for the Minneapolis Area Synod, said the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly would meet in New Orleans Aug. 8-13. He was confident a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery would be on the agenda. The proposal was started by the Bishop in Southern California, and five or six of the ELCA’s 65 Synods had already passed similar memorials, he said. Continue reading