In 1491, throughout the immense geographical area now commonly called the Western Hemisphere, our original free nations were existing independent of any Christian European claims of domination in any of our national territories. During our existence to that point, our ancestors developed and evolved our languages, cultures, ceremonial and spiritual traditions, our origin stories, our knowledge and wisdom systems, our economies, and our values.
In his book The American Holocaust (1992), historian David Stannard says that by the fifteenth century it is likely that some 90 to 100 million people were then existing throughout the entire hemisphere (North, Central, and South “America”). He says that after 1492, on average, some 95% those lives had ended “when the bloodbath was over” through the combination of diseases, forced labor, and outright murders and massacres.
As we all know, the Spanish Admiral Cristobal Colón (“Christ Carrier Colonizer”), as a representative of the Crown of Castile-Aragon (Spain), sailed three ships across the Atlantic Ocean to the islands now called the Caribbean. In May of 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued a number of papal decrees that called for non-Christian nations to be forced under the domination (deprimantur, subjicere, reducere) of “the Christian Empire” (imperii Christiani).
By the 16th and later centuries, various monarchies and states of Christendom—Portugal, Spain, England, France, Holland, Sweden, and Russia—all subscribed in some fashion to this dominating imperial attitude in their dealings with our non-Christian ancestors, nations, and our national territories.
Western historians and other Western narrators are fond of saying that 1492 marks the beginning of “The Conquest” of “the Americas.” By “The Conquest” they mean that Colón’s voyages were the start of what they regard as a great victory or triumph by the Christian world over our non-Christian nations and ancestors. The implied message is clear: As a result of the
voyages of Cristobal Colón and many other adventuring colonizers, and as a result of brutal acts of domination and dehumanization, the Christians of Europe assumed that Christendom had become entitled to assert over a permanent right of domination over our nations and our territories.
On the basis of that assumed right to dominate our existence, the political successors of Western Christendom (such as the United States and Canada, etc.) now consider our original free nations still obligated to live under a claimed right of domination by the various states that emerged from Western Christendom.
Now imagine that Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and Head of the Vatican City State, were to unequivocally say to the world in 2016: “I want to add to my recent apology in Bolivia to indigenous peoples. I want to do so by acknowledging that my papal predecessors were wrong to have authorized a claimed right of domination over the original free nations of the Western Hemisphere, and over original free nations in other areas of the planet, such as Africa, Australia and New Zealand.”
Imagine if Pope Francis were to further say to the world: “My predecessors had no right to call, as they did, for non-Christian nations to be reduced and subjected to the domination of the Christian empire (“imperii Christiani”). The claimed right of domination by Christian powers, authorized by the Holy See, was not in keeping with the teachings of Jesus.”
Imagine if Pope Francis were to acknowledge that the domination language written into the papal documents of the fifteenth century, and later written into the political and legal systems of states, never had any validity. What if the pope were to acknowledge that the political systems, such as the United States, that emerged from Western Christendom, have today no valid claim of a right of domination over our original free nations? This would undercut all state claims of authority over our nations and our lives.
Imagine if Pope Francis were to support our contention that there is no such thing as a right of dominationover our nations and peoples. The pope would thereby announce to the world what we already know: Our original nations are still rightfully free of any and all claims of political domination now being asserted by dominating states against our nations and peoples, and, therefore, such claims by states are wrongful and unacceptable. Such an acknowledgment by Pope Francis would send an important and powerful message to the world.
The pope’s candid admission of the wrongful nature of his predecessors’ decrees and pronouncements, such as those of Pope Nicholas V and Pope Alexander VI, would be a step toward destroying once and for all the very premise of a claimed right to dominate and to dehumanize our nations. His admission would eliminate the starting point (premise) of the political arguments and judicial precedents of domination still being used against our nations at this time, judicial precedents which maintain in our era the dominating biases and bigotries of Western Christendom’s past.
The pope’s admission would support us in our contention that the political systems of Canada, the United States, or other countries, have never had and still do not have the right to unilaterally impose their concepts, values, and definitions on our nations. This includes the ideas of “primitive tribes” “plenary power,” “domestic dependent nations,” “mere occupancy,” “crown title,” and “crown sovereignty.” Our nations and peoples have never been validly subject to the invaders’ concepts, ideas and labels, or their silly “ceremonies of domination” (“possession”).
An admission by the pope that the domination language of the papal bulls was and is invalid would undercut, for example, the main argument used against our nations by men such as Joseph Story when he was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and used against our original free nations by the U.S. Supreme Court. In his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Story quoted the Latin version of the Inter Caetera papal bull of 1493, and said that the Christians unilaterally called our ancestors “infidels, heathens, and savages.” He said the Christians, on the basis of their religion (i.e., the Bible), refused to acknowledge our nations as being “absolute, sovereign, and independent nations.”
That and other such arguments have left us defenseless against state claims of a right of domination over our existence within our own national territories. With such falsehoods stripped away, the truth is revealed: Our nations are still rightfully free of and from any claimed right of domination. Our nations have always been in possession of the prerogatives derived from our original free existence, which includes the inherent right to live free from any claimed right of domination over our lands, our lives, and our territories.
It is time for Pope Francis to publicly announce what we already know: The papal language of domination issued by his papal predecessors was invalid language. By publicly announcing this, Pope Francis will thereby publicly acknowledge that states have been using invalid arguments against our nations for centuries, on the basis of a pretended right of domination found in those ancient papal documents, and imitative royal charters.
The pope’s announcement and his formal and ceremonial revocation of those papal decrees will acknowledge that at no time in the past did the monarchies and states of Christendom have a legitimate right of supremacy over our Original Free Nations of Mother Earth. Therefore, present day states, which are systems of domination that have destroyed entire delicate ecosystems in our traditional territories, and poisoned the Earth’s precious waters, her lifeblood—have no valid chain of title in relation to our nations or our national territories. Such toxic systems of thought and behavior are premised on nothing but a “chain” of false pretensions and illusions of grandeur.
Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum, 2008). He is a producer of the documentary movie, “The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code,” directed and produced by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota), with narration by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree). The movie can be ordered from 38Plus2Productions.com.