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The U.S. Government’s Claim of a Right of Domination

Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845)

Justice Joseph Story was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts on September 18, 1779, and died on September 10, 1845, at the age of sixty-four. On February 3, 1812, during the presidency of James Madison, Story was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court at the age of thirty-two. He is the youngest person in history to be appointed to that position. He served for thirty-three years and six months as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Story’s father-in-law was a major investor in the massive 1795 Yazoo land fraud in Georgia, in which nearly the entire Georgia legislature was bribed to sell most of the land that now makes up large portions of the states of Alabama and Mississippi to four land speculation companies for $500,000. Outrage over the entire affair resulted in the legislature being overturned and new legislators being elected. The new legislature rescinded the Yazoo Act that authorized the sale, and returned the money. The dispute between the state of Georgia and the land speculation companies continued into the 1800s and resulted in a legal case, Fletcher v. Peck, which went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

When one of the lawyers working for the land speculation companies became ill, Story was hired to replace him on the case. He was only thirty years old at the time. It was during the Fletcher case that Story and Chief Justice John Marshall became friends, and not long thereafter Marshall recommended that Story be seated on the Court.

Story and Justice Antonin Scalia

Story is regarded as a genius and a giant in the legal profession. His continuing influence on American law was demonstrated for me some years ago when I attended a talk that Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) delivered at the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law. It was August 30, 2006, and the evening’s theme was “Constitutional Interpretation.” The occasion was the opening of the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism at the USD law school.

Scalia made Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States(1833) an important part of his presentation. During his address, however, Scalia did not focus on Story’s discussion of the origin of the U.S. claim of title to land in North America. He also did not mention the connection that Story made between the language of domination in a Vatican papal bull from 1493 and the language of domination found in the 1823 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh, a case that Story as an Associate Justice of the Court helped to decide. Despite Scalia’s omission, the Johnson case is an important part of the story of “Constitutional Interpretation.”

The Johnson ruling was issued three hundred and thirty years after Pope Alexander VI issued the Inter Caetera papal bull. The connection that Story made in his Commentaries between the papal bull and the Johnson ruling enables us to see that he and other members of the government were fully aware of the historical, legal, and political continuity between the property law of their era and the patterns of domination called “property” found in those ancient Vatican documents. The connection provides a little-understood context for the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution with regard to the U.S. government’s treatment of Native nations.

My Brief Conversation with Justice Scalia

After Justice Scalia’s talk, the law school’s director of communications walked with me to a reception at the Camino Shiley Courtyard. She told me I should feel free to go over and speak with Scalia. I got in line, waited patiently, and before long was standing in front of him. He was holding a beer, though I don’t recall what brand. Our conversation revealed to me the lack of knowledge at least some members of the court have about the significance of the Johnson ruling, the papal bulls, and the legal history of federal anti-Indian law.

Knowing he was fascinated with the topic of religion, I asked him a question I thought he might find intriguing:  ”Good evening Justice Scalia. My name is Steve Newcomb, and I was wondering whether you’ve ever come across my law review article, ‘The Evidence of Christian Nationalism in Federal Indian Law: Johnson v. McIntosh, Plenary Power, and the Doctrine of Discovery.’ It was published in 1993 by New York University Law School.”

“No,” he replied, “what’s it about?”

“It’s about the Doctrine of Discovery, the Supreme Court ruling in Johnson & Graham’s Lessee v. McIntosh,” I replied, “and the Court’s use of a categorical distinction between ‘Christian people’ and ‘natives, who were heathens’. The Court said that the first Christian people to locate lands inhabited by ‘natives, who were heathens’ had a right of ‘ultimate dominion’ over those lands, and that the heathen Indians only had a right or title of ‘occupancy’.”

Scalia told me he’d never heard of the Johnson ruling, or the doctrine of discovery. I was perplexed. After all, he’d been on the Supreme Court for nearly twenty years by that time and had participated in many decisions involving Indigenous peoples. “I don’t understand,” I said. “Just last Spring [2005], in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, the Court cited the doctrine of discovery in footnote number 1.”

Instead of responding to what I’d said, he began talking about the difference between the policies of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, with regard to Indigenous peoples. He said the United States had “eventually decided on a policy of conquest.”

“That’s quite interesting,” I replied matter-of-factly, “Can you point me to any decisions that actually said that?” “No,” he replied.

At that point I could tell the conversation was over. I thanked him for taking the time to speak with me and walked away. I was amazed at what I had just experienced. Scalia had been on the Supreme Court for nearly two decades, and yet he claimed to have never heard of the landmark decision Johnson v. McIntosh, which property law scholars cite as the cornerstone of U.S. property law in the United States. I found it bizarre. Either he was oblivious to one of the most important legal decisions in U.S. legal history or he was blatantly lying to me, which was quite possible if he didn’t want to disclose any of his views to me.

My Letter to Justice Scalia

The day after my conversation with him, I wrote Scalia a one-page thank you letter, starting with Story’s discussion of the “right of discovery” and Johnson v. McIntosh in his Commentaries. I included citations throughout the letter. I briefly explained the connections that I had mentioned during our conversation. I emailed my letter and a copy of my 1993 law review article to the communications director of the law school. She forwarded it to Justice Scalia’s staff at the court.

Several months later, in 2007, I had a phone conversation with Professor Lindsay Robertson, author of Conquest by Law, which provides a unique and detailed history of the Johnson ruling based on the original papers of the land speculation companies that brought the case. When I told Robertson about my conversation with Justice Scalia, he found it very interesting. It turns out that not long after my interaction with Scalia, Professor Robertson had received an invitation from the Supreme Court, asking him to give members of the Court a presentation on the significance of the Johnson v. McIntosh ruling. He said not every member of the Court attended his presentation, but quite a few did. Given the timing, I thought it was entirely possible that my communication with Justice Scalia might have caused the Court to send their invitation to Professor Robertson. If not, it was a most striking coincidence.

My conversation with Justice Scalia demonstrates an important point. Whenever possible, we as Native people ought to attend public events or lectures that would give us the opportunity to have conversations with members of the U.S. Supreme Court or other members of the U.S. government, so that we can discuss the role that the Johnson ruling and the doctrine of Christian domination play in the anti-Indian area of U.S. law typically called “federal Indian law.” Our conversations may ripple far beyond the moment.

Property: Another Word for Domination

As mentioned above, Justice Scalia claimed he’d never heard of the Johnson ruling or the doctrine of Christian discovery. I found this odd particularly because of his references to Story’s Commentaries during his talk. The opening chapter of Story’s Commentaries includes a at lengthy analysis of Chief Justice Marshall’s language in the Johnson ruling, and also reproduces nearly the entire ruling. Had Scalia actually not bothered to read Story’s opening chapter, which sets a wide historical context for an “originalist” interpretation of the U.S. Constitution?

The opening chapter of Story’s Commentaries is titled, “Origin and Title to the Territory of the Colonies.” The word “origin” obviously means “source or beginning.” The word “title” means, “The legal estate in fee, clear of all claims, liens, and encumbrances whatsoever, or expressed differently, the ownership of land without any rightful participation by any other person in any part of it.” (Ballentine’s Law Dictionary, 1969) Yet another definition of “title” is, “The union of all the elements which constitute ownership, at common law divided into possession, right of possession and right of property, the last two, however, being considered essentially the same.” (Ibid.) “Ownership,” in turn, leads us to, “Title to property. Dominion over property.” [and] “the rights of an owner.” “Owner” is “One who has complete dominion over particular property.” (Ibid.) In short, Story begins his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States with a thoroughgoing exploration of the fundamental concepts of the fundamental field of property law. There could hardly be a clearer indication of the significance of the field and of the basis of the U.S. claim of ownership of Indigenous lands. Moreover, Story’s analysis conforms to the views of other scholars.

My 1993 law review article, “The Evidence of Christian Nationalism in Federal Indian Law,” cites William Brandon’s New Worlds for Old (1986), where he explains as follows the connection between property and domination:

The Old-World idea of property was well expressed by the Latin “dominium”: from ‘dominus’ which derived from the Sanskrit ‘domanus’—‘he who subdues’. ‘Dominus’ in the Latin carried the same principal meaning, ‘one who has subdued,’ extending naturally to signify ‘master, possessor, lord, proprietor, owner’. ‘Dominium’ takes from ‘dominus’ the sense of ‘absolute ownership’ with a special legal meaning of property right of ownership (So says Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary (1969 ed.)). ‘Dominatio’ extends the word into ‘rule, dominium,’ and . . . ‘with an odius secondary meaning, unrestricted power, absolute dominium, lordship, tyranny, despotis.’ Political power grown from property—dominium—was, in effect, domination. (William Brandon, New Worlds For Old, p. 121, (1986)). [emphasis added]

In short, the concept of “property” is rooted in the Latin word “dominio,” a verb meaning “to dominate.” The term dominio is derived from “domo,” meaning “to subjugate, to subdue, to force into subservience, to tame, to domesticate, to cultivate, and to till.” The meanings of these terms enable us to transcode the word “owner” as, “one who has complete domination over particular property” or, simply, “a dominator.”

This matches the definition of property provided by Charles Monroe Haar and Lance Liebman in their law textbook Property and Law(Little, Brown and Company, 1985, p. 2), “the first establishment of socially approved physical domination over some part of the natural world.” I spoke with Professor Liebman, who told me that they had based that definition on William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England (1765-1769). Blackstone defines property as the “sole despotic dominion” over “external things,” “to the exclusion of anyone else in the universe.” Blackstone wrote that he based his definition on the Biblical book of Genesis directive in 1:28, to “subdue” and “dominate” the earth and all living things.

Blackstone’s definition of property enables us to accurately interpret the title of the opening chapter of Story’s Commentaries as follows: “The Origin of the Claim of a Right of British Domination Over the Territory of the British Colonies in North America.” This wording corresponds with the conclusions of a 1939 book, Creation of Rights of Sovereignty Through Symbolic Acts, written by three Columbia University graduate students of international law, under the guidance of Charles Cheney Hyde, who served for a time as the Solicitor to the U.S. Department of State.

Johnathon Havercroft’s Captives of Sovereignty (2014) points to the arguments of Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, and Georgio Agamben that “sovereignty” is “an unjust form of political domination that limits human freedom.” Havercroft devotes his book to developing a critique of sovereign domination. The next section will use Story’s words to explain how ancient Christian thinking about “heathens” and “infidels” serves as a key part of the context for the U.S. Constitution.

More Evidence of the Claim of a Right of Christian Domination

Story’s Commentaries provides the following explanation of what he calls the “right of discovery”:

The ambition of Henry the Seventh was roused by the communications of Columbus, and in 1495 [sic], he granted a commission to John Cabot, an enterprising Venetian, then settled in England, to proceed on a voyage of discovery, and to subdue and take possession of any lands unoccupied by any Christian Power, in the name and for the benefit of the British Crown.

King Henry’s commission, issued in 1496 by royal prerogative, authorized Cabot to embark upon a voyage to locate, subjugate (the text of the charter uses two Latin terms: “subjugari” and “subjugare”) the lands of non-Christians (Story: “unoccupied by any Christian Power”), (English text of the charter: “unknown to all Christians”). The intention of the monarch was to establish “dominion”—domination—(Latin text of the charter: “titulum dominium”) over distant lands. The intention to subjugate and claim a right of dominion over whatever areas of land are identified, contains the tacit claim that the Christian empire, the king, the Cabots, and the entire Christian world have “the right” to formulate those ideas and to engage in symbolic acts consistent with those ideas.

In Section 5 of Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, he explains the Christian world’s attitude of bigotry toward non-Christians: “The Indians were a savage race, sunk in the depths of ignorance and heathenism.” He continues:

If they might not be extirpated [physically eliminated] for their want [lack] of religion and just morals, they might be reclaimed from their errors. They were bound to yield to the superior genius of Europe, and in exchanging their wild and debasing habits for civilization and Christianity they were deemed to gain more than an equivalent for every sacrifice and suffering.

Story’s above wording paraphrases two sentences from Chief Justice Marshall’s writing in Johnson v. McIntosh. The first sentence from Johnson reads: “The character and religion of its [the continent’s] inhabitants afforded an apology for considering them as a people over whom the superior genius of Europe might claim an ascendancy.” The second sentence states: “The potentates of the old world found no difficulty in convincing themselves that they made ample compensation to the inhabitants of the new [world] by bestowing on them civilization and Christianity in exchange for unlimited independence.”

To gain an insightful understanding of the above language, we have to take the time necessary to reflect upon the meanings of the words and phrases. What does “the superior genius of Europe” mean, for instance? We can think of it as “a form of intelligence” that is regarded as operating on a level “higher” than that of the Native peoples’ intelligence.

Metaphorically, the idea of the Christian Europeans having a superior genius compared to Native nations and peoples imaginatively structures the discourse in such a manner that the Christian Europeans are deemed to always be “up,” “over,” and “above” the Native peoples, who are deemed to always be existing on a level that is “down,” “under,” “below” and “beneath” the Christian Europeans.

This is how the language and system of ideas is structured in U.S. anti-Indian law. Story’s aforementioned statement about the Indians being, in his view, “sunk in the depths” demonstrates his skill at using this over-under structuring. “Sunk” leads us to “sunken,” one meaning of which is, “settled below the normal level,” in our context means the Christian European level. And the word “depths” takes us to, “a deep place,” and “abyss,” “the worst part,” and “the quality of being deep.”

We can use a Capitol Dome as a symbol of what we are examining. It symbolizes the dominators who imaginatively (mentally) position themselves “on top” of and “over” everyone else. And this is related to “the superior genius of Europe” claiming a position of “ascendancy” “up” and “over” the Indians. One meaning of ascendancy is “controlling influence, governing power, DOMINATION,” Thus, Marshall, on behalf of the U.S. Supreme Court, expressed the view that “the superior genius of Europe” was able to claim and assume a right of domination over the Indians. 

And given that one meaning of “civilization” is “the forcing of a cultural pattern on a population to which it is foreign,” that forcible process of cultural imposition, including, Christianity, was deemed to be the form of “compensation” the Indians would receive from the Christian Europeans. Why were the Indians in need of “compensation”? They deserved to be compensated for the loss of their liberty, meaning their free way of life. And the Christian Europeans would give themselves “unlimited independence” on the continent by forcibly “bestowing” a system of domination called “civilization” on the Indians.

The people who were claiming the right to forcibly impose a Christian European cultural pattern and Christianity on the Indians were of the view that what they were imposing on the Indians was of greater value than the free way of life the Indians had been traditionally living. Stripping the Native nations of their unlimited independence opened a space into which the Christian Europeans were able to insert their own unlimited independence on the continent.

Story continues as follows:

The papal authority, too, was brought in aid of these great designs; and for the purpose of overthrowing heathenism and propagating the Catholic religion, Alexander the Sixth, by a Bull issued in 1493, granted to the crown of Castile the whole of the immense territory then discovered, or to be discovered. . .so far as it was not then possessed by any Christian prince.

If any Christian nation, monarch, or potentate had already claimed a right of domination over some geographical area and put up markers to communicate their intention to establish themselves there, then, from the religious, legalistic viewpoint of Christendom, that area was considered “off limits” to any other Christian monarch or nation. More specifically, if non-Christian nations and peoples were the only peoples existing in the “discovered” area and no prior claim of Christian domination had been asserted, then it was the policy of the Christian powers separately and of Christendom as a whole to agree that the Christian “discoverer” could claim a right of domination over that place. Story’s narrative shows that the Johnson v. McIntosh ruling followed this pattern, claiming that the United States became the successor to the British claim of a Christian right of domination over lands labeled “heathen” and “infidel.” The Johnson v. McIntosh ruling uses the phrase “ultimate dominion” as a euphemistic way of expressing the theme of domination.

The Hidden Dimension of “Christian” and “Heathen, Pagan, and Infidel”

By differentiating between “Christian people” and “heathens, pagans, and infidels,” Story and Marshall were following a reasoning process from the Bible. The word “heathen,” for example, is a word “of Christian origin,” so says the Oxford English Dictionary. And the phrase “Christian people” is a category that includes all the main features of domination in relation to non-Christians. The Idealized Mental Model of a “Christian” monarch from the Age of Discovery includes the features listed below:

  • A right of domination over non-Christians and their lands.

  • Full sovereignty

  • Perfect title

  • Ultimate dominion

  • The right to exclude all others from claiming a right of domination in those places where a right of domination has already been claimed

By contrast, the Idealized Mental Model associated with the words “heathen,” “pagan,” “infidel,” and “savage” is missing all the above features ascribed to the category “Christian.” From a Christian European perspective, non-Christian Native peoples are:

  • Automatically assumed to be subject to the ideas and arguments of the Christians

  • Subject to the Christians’ claim of a right of domination

  • Possessing no right of domination or authority over Christians

  • Possessing an incomplete sovereignty

  • Possessing an imperfect title of occupancy

  • People possessing no right to exclude Christians from claiming a right of domination over them and their lands

Joseph Story was using, for example, the above features of the categories “Christian” and “non-Christian” when he wrote of Native peoples, “as infidels, heathens, and savages, they were not allowed to possess the prerogatives belonging to absolute, sovereign, and independent nations.” The Christian world would not mentally “allow” the non-Christians to be conceptualized as possessing such prerogatives. And notice the presumption that it was up to the invading foreigners to decide how the original nations and peoples would be mentally conceptualized from a Christian European viewpoint.

These above features constitute the hidden dimension of the categorical difference between Christians and non-Christians. As soon as those who call themselves “Christian” succeed in metaphorically naming the original peoples “heathen,” “pagan,” “infidel,” and “savage,” they have thereby mentally ascribed the above limited properties to the non-Christians, while ascribing the above mentioned properties to the Christians.

Non-Christian Native peoples are, in other words, automatically understood to have no right of domination over Christians, only an incomplete ‘sovereignty’, no title of property to their lands, no right to exclude Christians from their lands and territories, and no ability to prevent the Christian Europeans from claiming a right of domination over them and their lands. The difference between those properties is tacitly (silently) invoked every time the Johnson v. McIntosh ruling is referenced or mentioned.

Searching the Historical Record and Challenging the Claim of a Right of Domination

As scholars, we need to closely examine the ideas that the most elite non-Native thinkers of the United States have written about Native nations and peoples. We need to avoid accepting the view that we as Native people are obligated in our time to adopt and follow the same ways of thinking about Native issues that the intellectuals of the United States developed generations ago. There is nothing that obligates us as Native people to accept the U.S. government’s claim of a right of domination over Native nations. If anything, we are obligated by our original free existence to figure out how to oppose such claims.

        People who work for the United States government, judges and attorneys for example, assume they are bound by the ideas that Christian European men such as Joseph Story developed centuries ago. It’s as if the people working for the United States are still saying today: “We are obligated to abide by and not deviate from the ideas that our Christian European ancestors developed centuries ago.”

Here’s a key point: We as Native people have a perfect right to oppose a centuries-old idea-system of domination that continues to be used against our nations and peoples. It is our formidable task to develop ideas and arguments that will effectively challenge that system. I offer the following as a tentative step in that direction.

First-in-Time, First-in-Right is one potential argument, not First-Invader-in-Time, First-Invader-in-Right. A second potential argument is “Void When Initiated, You Cannot Grant What You Don’t Possess.” The papal bulls and royal charters were null and void from the moment they were issued because the pope and the monarchs of Europe possessed no land in places they had no knowledge of at the time they wrote their fanciful documents. Any such document became null as soon as one of the colonizing ships arrived to the territory of a coastal Native nation. This is because that coastal Native nation had its own preexisting territorial jurisdiction, which rendered the pretenses of the papal and monarchical documents null and void in the territory of that free and independent Native nation.

Lastly, “Anything Wrong From the Beginning Can Never Be Made Right, Because It Was Wrong From Its Inception.” The passage of time does not make something wrongful become rightful. The claim of a right of domination can never be made right because it was wrong from the moment it was made and it will forever continue to be wrong.

The Mental World of Christian Europe is the Origin of the Claim of a Right of Domination

Upon reflection, it is easy to comprehend a key point: Not one Native person alive back when the Vatican papal bulls or royal charters were drafted played any role in the creation of those documents. Likewise, we seem to never notice that only non-Native thinkers developed the ideas that serve today as the foundation of federal anti-Indian law. Not one native person participated in the development of those ideas. What is the significance of this observation?

Anyone who examines the overall body of Christian European documents for answers to questions about Native peoples and their rights, documents such as Vatican papal bulls, royal charters, the writings of Joseph Story, the Johnson v. McIntosh ruling, and U.S. Supreme Court rulings generally, is looking at the mental artifacts, so to speak, produced by the mental world of Christian Europe, and then attempting to accurately interpret those artifacts and apply those ideas to Native nations in our time.

Native nations that hire domination-system attorneys and turn to them for answers, will only receive answers from the past that are part of the grand repository of non-Indian and anti-Indian ideas about “Indians.” Native nations that approach problem solving in this manner will be destined to repeat the same disempowering cycle that those anti-Indian ideas are designed to create, while hoping for a different result. This is because in order to obtain the answers to the questions that are being asked, Native leaders will invariably and automatically turn to the ideas and arguments of domination that the U.S. government developed in the past, and continues to use in the present, without even noticing they have done so. All this is kept hidden from view by means of one simple phrase, “the law,” a phrase that makes it seem as if non-Indian ideas about “Indians” are something more than ideas by being called “laws.”

We can imagine a thick book called The Book of the Dominator. Whenever a question arises, the leadership of a particular Native nation can turn to their lawyer and ask, “What’s your take on this course of action?” And the response comes back: “We’ll have to get out The Book of the Dominator and see what he has to say.” They have to look for the answer to their question by searching through the book, or else decide how to respond based on what the attorney recalls about the book or about the ideas and arguments found in U.S. government case law.

In one scenario the lawyer answers: “Based on what the Dominator has said about this sort of thing, I’d say you ought to feel confident going in that direction.” Or the lawyer might say: “Well, unfortunately based on what it says here in The Book of the Dominator, I’d recommend against taking that course of action.” Law has been defined as, “the habit of obedience,” to which, in our case, we need to add, “a habit of obedience to the ideas and arguments of ‘the Dominator’.”  One of the most recent versions of The Book of the Dominator is titled, for example, “Federal Indian Law, 2012 Edition.”


It is not possible for us to question or challenge something we know nothing about. This is why an acknowledgment of the claim of a right of domination is so critically important. After all, we cannot question or challenge the U.S. government’s claim of a right of domination over Native nations if we don’t recognize that this claim is intrinsic to federal anti-Indian law. So long as the United States government’s claim remains hidden from view, it will remain unchallenged by the name domination.

When we closely re-examine the writings of Chief Justice John Marshall in the Johnson ruling, Joseph Story in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, to cite just two specific examples, it then becomes possible to accurately identify the idea-patterns that have been used and continue to be used against Native nations and peoples. It would seem that Native studies programs have not learned the importance of teaching students how to recognize the U.S. government’s claim of a right of domination over Native peoples.

With few exceptions, law students in the United States are also not taught about the U.S. government’s claim of a right of domination over Native nations, even when they are being taught about “the doctrine of discovery.” There is a simple reason for this. Law professors seldom if ever make the word “domination” explicit in their course materials in relation to U.S. case.

The United States has succeeded in getting Native people to call the U.S. claim of a right of domination over Native nations and peoples “the trust relationship.” That’s what the anti-Indian area of scholarship called “Federal Indian Law” has achieved in my estimation. This is one reason why it is critically important to teach students to recognize the Paradigm of Domination. Then they will have a heightened awareness of its patterns. Ideally, this new awareness will enable them to develop arguments that oppose the claim of a right of domination over Native nations, beginning with First-in-Time, First-in-Right.

Until someone has been taught how to unpack and decode specific patterns, it remains impossible to recognize those patterns and understand why they are still being used in the reasoning process regarding Native peoples. But once we have been taught how to see those patterns, they seem ubiquitous and impossible to ignore. An unlimited number of terms and phrases are being used every single day with regard to Native nations and peoples, and most of the time they are never recognized as having anything to do with domination. This one insight is the basis for an entire body of research I like to call domination studies.

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape) is co-founder and director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Discovery (Chicago Review Press), and co-producer of the documentary movie “The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code,” directed by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota).  Many thanks to my dear friend Peter d’Errico, professor emeritus UMass Amherst, and author of Federal Anti-Indian Law The Legal Entrapment of Indigenous Peoples, Praeger, 2022. He provided sage editorial guidance for this article. I also want to thank the Indigenous Values Initiative for the opportunity to publish this essay.


Steven T. Newcomb, "The U.S. Government’s Claim of a Right of Domination," Doctrine of Discovery Project (16 January 2023), https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/blog/us-government-claim-domination/.

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