Chase Iron Eyes, activist and attorney of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, talks about an initiative to revoke the Doctrine of Discovery.
“Chase Iron Eyes: The Doctrine of Discovery refers to a series of edicts issued by the Catholic Church in the 15th century, which essentially allowed Catholic countries such as France, Portugal, Italy and Spain to conquer foreign or non-Christian lands and either forcibly convert the inhabitants of those lands to Christianity or kill or enslave them. The first papal bull, Dum Diversas, was issued by Pope Nicholas V and was concerned with providing Alfonso V, the then-King of Portugal, with the moral footing to invade and conquer the Ottoman Empire in the east. This was essentially part of the Crusades of the Middle Ages. However, when Pope Alexander VI issued Inter Caetera in 1493, about one year after Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas, the focus of the papal bull was to provide legal rationale for colonial nations to lay claim to “discovered” lands in the New World. The papal bull reads in part: “Among other works well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest: that in our times the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be especially 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.”