Urges US adoption of UN Declaration
By Gale Courey Toensing
Organizers of the bill hope it will lead to the overturning of a 19th century U.S. Supreme Court ruling and Congress’ assumption of plenary power over Indian nations they say are illegitimate and immoral, and continue to strip American Indian nations of their inherent sovereignty.
The doctrine institutionalized the competition between European countries in their ever-expanding quest for colonies, resources and markets, and sanctioned the genocide of indigenous people in the “New World.”
The resolution renounces the doctrine “as fundamentally opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our understanding of the inherent rights that individuals and peoples have received from God,” and promises to share the document with its churches, governments within its boundaries, and the U.N.
It resolves to eliminate the doctrine within the church’s contemporary politics, programs and structures, and urges the U.S. government to do the same. It asks Queen Elizabeth to publicly repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, and encourages all Episcopal churches to support indigenous peoples in their ongoing efforts for their inherent sovereignty and fundamental human rights as peoples to be respected.
Johnson v. M’Intosh, an 1823 U.S. Supreme Court case, held that because of the Doctrine of Discovery American Indians have a mere right of occupancy to their lands. The ruling is foundational to federal Indian law.
Dieffenbacher-Krall, the executive director of the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission and originator of the resolution movement, said the ultimate goal is to overturn Johnson v. M’Intosh, and dismantle Congress’ claim to plenary power over Indian nations.