3 minute read

The “Doctrine of Christian Discovery” podcast—produced in collaboration with Syracuse University and Indigenous Values Initiative—explores how a 15th-century Christian doctrine encouraged conquest and colonization of non-Christians. The podcast also unpacks how its legacies still affect various lands and peoples, including the United States.

“The Doctrines of Christian Discovery (DoCD) originate with 15th century Papal Bulls that were issued by the Vatican and implemented by Monarchies, sanctioning the brutal Conquest and Colonization of non-Christians who were deemed ‘enemies of Christ’ in Africa and the Americas,” reads the Doctrine of Discovery website, administered by the Indigenous Values Initiative.

“These Papal Bulls were a continuation of what had been going on since at least the 8th century from Charlemagne, through the Crusades, the Inquisition, the war on witches, to the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula,” the site says. 

The podcast was produced at the “Religious Origins of White Supremacy” conference in December 2023 at Syracuse University in New York. The conference was organized by Professor Philip P. Arnold of Syracuse, Sandy Bigtree (Mohawk Nation,) and Adam DJ Brett.

“This podcast represents the first of many educational resources that will be coming out of this conference,” said the conference organizers, “which will hopefully be useful not only for challenging the legacy of Johnson v. M’Intosh but also dismantling the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, and further challenging white supremacy through understanding its longer history.”

Johnson v. M’Intosh was an 1823 U.S. Supreme Court case that gave legal legs to the doctrine.

The eight-episode podcast is pitched to students and others beginning their exploration of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. It is hosted by Tanner Randall, a recent graduate of Dartmouth College and son of Mitch Randall, GFM’s CEO and member of the Muscogee Creek Nation.

“We were excited to have Tanner, a recent graduate from Dartmouth’s Native Studies program, as the host because we envision this podcast as a teaching resource for undergraduate courses,” the conference organizers said. “Our hope is that having a recent undergraduate as the host will help make the podcast more engaging and useful to an undergraduate and other audiences new to the conversation. We are so excited to hear how people are able to use this podcast in their teaching and organizing.”

The eight episodes are as follows:

  • Episode 1 – Betty Lyons: Understanding the Doctrine
  • Episode 2 – Robert P. Jones: White Supremacy’s Roots
  • Episode 3 – Robert J. Miller: Property & Sovereignty
  • Episode 4 – Gustavo Melo Cerqueira & Danielle N. Boaz: Religious Racism
  • Episode 5 – Steven Newcomb & JoDe Goudy: U.S. Law
  • Episode 6 – Eve Reyes-Aguirre: Environment & Creation
  • Episode 7 – João Chaves: Influence in the Americas
  • Episode 8 – Mitch Randall: Countering Conversion

Each episode begins with acknowledging “the Onondaga Nation, firekeepers of the Haudenosaunee, the Indigenous people on whose ancestral lands Syracuse University now stands.” 

“May the information you glean from this podcast motivate you to uphold Indigenous values, protect Mother Earth and Honor Indigenous Treaties,” the acknowledgment continues.

“The Doctrine of Christian Discovery podcast was an important project for me professionally and personally,” said Randall, GFM’s CEO. “Professionally, the doctrine of discovery is the foundation for the Christian conquest of Indigenous peoples and their cultures. It has been unjustly used as the primary reason for the genocide of Indigenous people.”

“Personally,” he continued, “my Muskogee (Creek) ancestors were victims of the actions of those advocating for the doctrine. I hope this podcast will shed light on the dangers of the doctrine and that its consequences still have ramifications today.”

Podcast sponsors include: The Henry Luce Foundation, Syracuse University, Indigenous Values Initiative, American Indian Law Alliance, American Indian Community House, Good Faith Media, Tonatierra and Toward Our Common Public Life. 

The podcast’s executive producers are Mitch Randall of Good Faith Media, Philip P. Arnold and Sandy Bigtree of Indigenous Values Initiative and Adam DJ Brett of Syracuse University and American Indian Law Alliance. It was produced by Cliff Vaughn and edited by David Pang. The American Indian Law Alliance provided production assistance.

Listen to the podcast on MegaphoneSpotify or Apple

Learn more at DoctrineOfDiscovery.org Listen to the podcast on MegaphoneSpotify or Apple.


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