The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code
It is often said that racism is America’s original sin, referring to anti Black racism. But actually there was an earlier racism against the original inhabitants of the Americas. It was the view that they were barbarian and that civilized Europeans were superior and entitled by God to dominate them -- and steal their land while they were at it. All this was justified by fifteenth century Catholic Popes with their Doctrine of Discovery. This was the theology that held that Christian nations were entitled to dominate, enslave and even kill uncivilized peoples whose very humanity was questionable.
Filmmaker Sheldon Wolfchild details how this resulted in the tragic momentum of domination and dehumanization throughout this hemisphere. In 1823 Chief Justice John Marshall’s distinction between “Christian peoples” and “heathens” and the claimed right of Christian discovery and domination provided the underlying rationale for US Supreme Court rulings regarding original nations and peoples. It is still part of US law.
The film concludes with traditional teachings developed over thousands of years that provide a much-needed alternative for humans and the ecological systems of Mother Earth at this time.
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