Seeing the Round Corners

February 19, 2018



Last week’s column presented a synopsis of the Doctrine of Discovery. Few people in modern day time realize just how the laws of the United States and the international laws of Western Christendom are connected.

Columbus performed a ceremony to “take possession” when he first set foot on what came to be known as the Americas for the king and queen of Spain “acting under the international laws of Western Christendom – an act of “possession” that was “based on a religious doctrine now known as the Doctrine of Discovery. It is is beyond mind boggling to this writer that a religious doctrine from five centuries ago could here in present day American still be used by the U. S. government.

An American Indian, Steve Newcomb, has studied the origins of the U.

S. federal Indian law and international law back to the days of Christendom for the last decade, and is presently completing a book about the subject. A quote from his white paper, “Five Hundred Years of Injustice:  The Legacy of Fifteenth Century Religious Prejudice” –  The U. S. government still uses this archaic Judeo-Christian doctrine to deny rights of Native American Indians.” Give this idea very careful thought as you continue reading.

In Newcomb’s explanation of the “Origins of the Doctrine of Discovery,” Newcomb included these points in the origination progression:

  1. a papal document issued forty years before Columbus’ 1452 voyage declaring war against all non-Christians throughout the world, specifically sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization and exploitation of non-Christians nations and their territories;
  2. Columbus sailed across the Sea of Darkness in 1492 with the express understanding that he was authorized to “take possession” of any lands he “discovered that were “not under the dominion of any Christian rules,” he and the Spanish sovereigns of Aragon and Castile were following an already well-established tradition of “discovery” and conquest;
  3. After Columbus returned to Europe, Pope Alexander VI issued a papal document, the bull Inter Cetera of May 3, 1493 “granting” to Spain at the request of Ferdinand and Isabella, the right to conquer the land which Columbus had already found, as well as any land which Spain might “discover” in the future;
  4. The Inter Cetera document stated Pope Alexander’s desire that the “discovered” people be “subjugated and brought to the faith itself.” By this means, said the pope, the “Christian Empire would be propagated;”
  5. Upon protest by Portugal, an additional subsequent bull (May 4, 1493) stated that Spain must not attempt to establish its dominion over lands which had already “come into the possession of any Christian lords;” and
  6. To placate the two rival monarchs, the pope drew a line of demarcation between the two poles, giving Spain right of conquest and dominion over one side of the globe, and Portugal over the other.

   What most people fail to realize is that, “During the quin-centennial of Columbus’ journey to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest committed by Columbus and his men against the peaceful Native people of the Caribbean were sanctioned by the above-mentioned documents of the Catholic Church.”

The papal documents “were frequently used by Christian European conquerors in the Americas to justify an incredibly brutal system of colonization which dehumanized the indigenous people by regarding their territories as being ‘inhabited only by brute animals’.”

Both the 1452 and 1492 papal documents on “Christian Powers” or “different states of Christendom” viewed indigenous peoples as “the lawful spoil and prey of their civilized conquerors.” Spain, Portugal, England, France and Holland over the next several centuries aided the rise of the Doctrine of Discovery.

In the name of all things decent and moral, how has the United States allowed the Doctrine of Discovery to maintain its “ultimate dominion” over the lands of America during the Age of Discovery, and that upon “discovery,” the Indians lost “their rights to complete sovereignty as independent nations, and only retained a right of “occupancy” in their lands.

Next week, The Doctrine of Discovery in U. S. Law.

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