What is the Doctrine of Discovery?

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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. 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. In 1823, the “Doctrine of Discovery” was first articulated as a legal formulation in U.S. Supreme Court case, Johnson v. M’Intosh in 1823. As this case fundamentally defines international property law today, it continues to be used by multi-national corporations and Nation-States in their extraction of resources in indigenous territories around the world. The global scale with which the DoCD expressed itself in the “Age of Discovery”—first in Africa, then the Americas, and beyond—created a unified Christendom, which became the opposing force against the great global plurality of cultures. This Doctrine governs United States and international law today and has been cited as recently as 2005 in the decision City Of Sherrill V. Oneida Indian Nation Of N.Y.