February 10, 2008

Bible permits treaty-breaking

Newcomb:  Law in the shadow of the BibleThe Old Testament context of the doctrine of discovery has also greatly influenced how every Indian treaty with the United States has been interpreted by the United States. Vine Deloria Jr. said that "the treaties with Native Americans have been negotiated, ratified, and concluded under a cloud of impotence so clear that promises [made to Indians] have dissolved into rhetoric when put to the judicial test." The Old Testament context of the discovery doctrine solves the mystery as to why Indian treaties have not proven more beneficial to Indian nations despite the fact ratified treaties are classified in the U.S. Constitution as 'the supreme Law of the land.'

Indian treaties are not interpreted by the United States in keeping with the way the Indian people understood the treaties when they were made. In other words, those treaties are not interpreted within the context of a particular Indian nation's language, culture, spiritual traditions and multigenerational ecological relationship with their lands. Instead, Indian treaties are interpreted by the United States within the Old Testament context of the doctrine of discovery. It is within this religious context that Indian rights "to complete sovereignty as independent nations," are said to have been diminished by what we have now identified as the Old Testament premised doctrine of discovery.


Unknown said...

Hmmm... the article is expired, so I can't see whether this group is right about the Biblical backing for the "doctrine of discovery". I'd like to see what their justification is.

Rob said...

Indian Country Today changed the location of its archived stories, but now I've fixed the link. Try it again.