For Native American Heritage Month and the day before the celebration of the brutal English colonization of "New England" known as Thanksgiving, we take a deep dive into the historical underpinnings of and justifications for the expropriation of indigenous territories. In an article titled "Was the United States founded as a democracy?" for his Original Free Nations website, our guest Steve Newcomb writes, "our nations and our peoples enjoyed a free and independent way of life before the invading Christian Europeans assumed a right of domination over our nations and our ancestors." This assumption of a right to domination came to be known as the "Doctrine of Discovery," and was based on a series of Papal Bulls issued in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Steven T. Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is the co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, along with Birgil Kills Straight. He is author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and co-producer of the documentary film, The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, directed by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota). Newcomb is one of the world’s leading authorities on the Doctrine of Discovery, based on the 40 years he has spent investigating and writing about these issues. He has been a tireless advocate for Indigenous nations and peoples for decades and his work has helped the issue of repudiating the Doctrine become a global movement.