2009 event archive “Roots of Peacemaking: Indigenous Values, Global Crisis”
is the first in an ongoing series of events that include conferences, cultural exchanges and concerts. This is a United Nation International Day of Peace event. It is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the Onondaga Nation and Syracuse University. Syracuse is located on Onondaga Nation ancestral land, the Central Fire of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (‘People of the Longhouse’). Onondaga Lake is where the Peacemaker, Hiawantha, and the Tadadaho came together to plant the Tree of Peace to establish the Great Law of Peace. Since that time a millennium ago the Haudenosaunee have organized themselves according to these principles. Founding Fathers of the United States, including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were deeply impressed with the Haudenosaunee processes and incorporated many of these ideas into the United States Constitution. Onondaga Lake is therefore the Indigenous birthplace of democracy. Ironically it is also the most polluted lake in the United States. These conflicting realities symbolize the hopes and challenges of Indigenous people, as well as all people in our world. The Indigenous Sustainability Studies Project (ISSP) is an inter-disciplinary, multi-cultural, international project is a collaboration between the Onondaga Nation, Syracuse University, SUNY-ESF, and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON). Other institutions and community groups will be added to this collaboration. It is connected with Native American Studies in the College of Arts and Science at Syracuse University. The ISSP is devoted to investigating the current critical state of Indigenous people, their traditions, and their environments and dedicated to promoting Indigenous cultural values in order that there be a better possibility for human communities throughout the world to flourish. Initially the ISSP will promote an international awareness of the environmental and spiritual crises facing Indigenous people of the Haudenosaunee as well as around the world, through a series of high profile cultural events.
Gale Courey Toensing • December 21, 2009
Indian Country Today Network
MELBOURNE, Australia – While indigenous delegates from around the world were sidelined at the 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, the collective voice of indigenous peoples at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions was heard calling on the Pope to repudiate the Christian Doctrine of Discovery.
Papal Bulls of the 15th century gave Christian explorers the right to claim lands they “discovered” and lay claim to those lands for their Christian Monarchs. Any land that was not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered”, claimed, and exploited. If the “pagan” inhabitants could be converted, they might be spared. If not, they could be enslaved or killed. The Discovery Doctrine is a concept of public international law expounded by the United States Supreme Court in a series of decisions, initially in Johnson v. M’Intosh in 1823. The doctrine was Chief Justice John Marshall’s explanation of the way in which colonial powers laid claim to newly discovered lands during the Age of Discovery. Under it, title to newly discovered lands lay with the government whose subjects discovered new territory. The doctrine has been primarily used to support decisions invalidating or ignoring aboriginal possession of land in favor of colonial or post-colonial governments. John Marshall, who is most credited with describing the doctrine, did not voice wholehearted support of the doctrine even while using it to justify judicial decisions. He pointed to the doctrine as simple fact, looking at the possession-takings which had been supported by it as things which had occurred and had to be recognized. The supposedly inferior character of native cultures was a reason for the doctrine having been used, but whether or not that was justified was not relevant for Marshall. This Doctrine governs United States Indian Law today and has been cited as recently as 2005 in the decision City Of Sherrill V. Oneida Indian Nation Of N.Y.