DISMANTLING THE DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY
Akimel O’tham Nation Territory April 19-21, 2013
We the Nations of Original Peoples issue this call to reflect and take action on issues of critical importance to our present and future survival.
We affirm our right to exercise our free existence as nations and peoples of this continent and hemisphere Abya Yala, called [America] an existence that goes back to the beginnings of time as it has been expressed in our stories of origin. Our ancestors evolved with profound knowledge systems and languages. The wisdom and spirituality of our ancestors, with their profound powers of discernment and scientific observations have contributed greatly to humanity in terms of food, medicine, mathematics, spiritual knowledge and understanding, while serving as guardians of vast ecological systems and pristine pure waters, which is the very source of life. Our free and independent ancestors studied the laws of the universe and developed our original systems of spiritual understanding and harmonization with the natural world. Our unique legal governance systems are and will always be deeply rooted in the Mother Earth of our lands and traditional territories.
The year 1492 marks the beginning of an ongoing process of crimes against our humanity as the original peoples of Abya Yala [the Americas]. In 1492, Cristobal Colόn (aka Christopher Columbus) was commissioned to sail to our homelands, and arriving at the Taino island of Guanahani and he claimed to take possession of it in the name of the Chrisitian Cross and the Castilian Crown. He did so based on the claim by Christendom that Christian monarchs had the divine right to discover and conquer non-Christians, and lay claim to their lands, territories, and resources. Colόn re-named that first island San Salvador (‘Holy Savior’), and he erected a cross and a gallows to symbolize the intention to impose Castilian political domination and crown law upon the original nations of our territories. This process was repeated, in mass scale, wherever the agents of Christendom invaded the territories and ceremonial sites of our nations, intending to dominate and dispossess us of our lands and spirituality.
In 1493, Pope Alexander VI purported to make an Apostolic “donation” of non-Christian lands to the crown of Castile and Leόn, for “the propagation of the Christian Empire” (emperii christiani), and expressed his desire that non-Christian nations (barbarae nationes) be subjugated (deprimantur) and “brought to the faith itself.” The pope’s document said to the Crown of Castile and Leόn:
“…we of our own accord…do by tenor of these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions, cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered…
and we make, appoint, and depute you and your said heirs and successors lords of them [those lands] with full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind; with this proviso however, that by this our gift, grant, and assignment no right acquired by any Christian prince…is hereby to be understood to be withdrawn or taken away.”
The prior colonization rights of ‘any Christian prince,’ specifically the crown of Portugal, were to be protected but not the rights of any non-Christian nations and peoples. This decree resulted in a tradition of political, economic, social, cultural domination and subjugation imposed against our nations and peoples in the name of “civilization” and the “peaceful conquest” by the Catholic missionaries, as Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits imposed religious conversion as instrument of colonial domination.
For three days we have gathered in the traditional territory of the O’otham Nations to discuss the destructive, deadly and genocidal effects of the Doctrine of Discovery on our originally free nations and peoples. We have focused on the need to dismantle and challenge the dehumanizing ideas and the arguments that has been typically called the Doctrine of Discovery (also known as “the Right of Discovery”). Those ideas of domination and subjugation are perfectly illustrated by the Papal Bull Inter Caetera of 1493 and other such documents issued by the Holy See at the Vatican and adopted by the Portuguese and Spanish crowns and their successors.
The countries of England, France, Holland, and Russia also made claims to create rights of sovereignty through symbolic acts. As a result of international political succession, countries throughout the Western Hemisphere all trace their political lineage back to the 1492 Prerogatives to Columbus and to the papal bulls of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. In the United States, for example, the political formation of the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah are traced back directly to these same documents.
After many presentations and much deliberation at the “Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery International Conference”, April 19-21, we find that the Doctrine of Discovery continues its destructive impact even after all these centuries upon our Nations of Indigenous Peoples.
We hereby affirm that the persistent domination, subjugation, and dehumanization of our Indigenous Peoples are a clear violation or our Human Rights. As a means of dealing with the ongoing rights violations and instances of domination that our peoples suffer from on a daily basis, we make this call of conscience, and affirm our determination to form an Indigenous Peoples’ Tribunal to monitor, acknowledge, and publicize the violations of the rights of our nations and peoples, and to condemn the perpetrators of those rights violations, to globally distribute educational information about the Doctrine of Discovery and its effects, in affirmation of the original systems of law of our nations and peoples.
We further note that since the invasion, colonization and subsequent imposition of colonial states, our peoples have suffered persecution, massacres and the denial of our Human Rights of free movement as Indigenous Peoples in our own continent. The current neo-colonization illegally imposes extractive industries upon our territories and also then criminalizes us with colonial borders. The religious impositions of Christendom continues to negatively impact our ancestral practices of spirituality, going so far as to deny access to our ceremonial centers now considered archaeological ruins to be developed as entertainment centers of tourism.
Therefore, we affirm that the persistent domination, subjugation and dehumanization of our Indigenous Peoples are a clear violation of our rights.
To deal with the systematic violations of our rights and freedoms, and the various forms of domination and domestication affecting our peoples today and considering that the Indigenous Peoples have an imperative in terms of safeguarding our rights and shape our destiny. Under the principle of self determination we call to constitute a Tribunal of Indigenous Peoples in order to show evidence the violations of our rights and its disastrous effects that prevent a better future and similarly condemn those responsible for human rights violations which by their nature are acts against humanity. This Tribunal of Indigenous Peoples shall be of a global character and serve to disseminate the historical and current situation of Indigenous Peoples and also monitor each situation. This international Indigenous Peoples body shall promote and inform global society towards education about the Doctrine of Discovery and its negative effects against our humanity.
Maya Vision – Centro Cultural Techantit