You Are Here
Video: Doctrine of Discovery Introduction
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix, Lead, Arizona Immigration Ministry; Salvador Reza, Comites de Defensa del Barrio; Tupac Enrique Acosta, Tonatierra; Carlos Garcia, Puente Arizona; and Daniel Rodriguez, SOMOS America President discuss the Doctrine of Discovery.
Download Video (MP4) (right-click to save the file).
SPEAKER 1: Upon planting a flag, Christopher Columbus claimed dominion over the New World for the King and Queen of Spain. He was empowered by the international laws of Christendom. Based upon a document known as the Doctrine of Discovery.
REV. SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: The Doctrine of Discovery said that if Christians came upon a land that was inhabited by non-Christians, the Christians had title to the land and should enslave the people.
SALVADOR REZA: The Doctrine of Discovery is actually a doctrine that came out of the need to justify the mission of not only what they call the Americas today, but also Africa.
REV. SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: So, fundamentally, it was a doctrine of domination, of Christian superiority or supremacy. And it said, in its interpretation, that indigenous people didn't have souls, that they weren't full human beings and therefore should be enslaved.
SALVADOR REZA: The corollary to that was that by the will of God, by the will of God which was manifest destiny, the white man would take possession of the earth from Atlantic to the Pacific, from Alaska to Argentina.
REV. SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: That piece of the Doctrine of Discovery has been referred to in US law out of the US Supreme Court. So it also forms a foundation of US law.
TUPAC ENRIQUE: You started the Doctrine of Discovery but you couldn't leave the Doctrine of Discovery and just walk away. You'd have to walk off to the Monroe Doctrine. You'd have to walk up to the War on Terror as a doctrine of foreign policy of discoverment.
SALVADOR REZA: And, today, we still are living the remnants of it with laws like the SP1070. here in Arizona. Suffering that is happening today, because of that border, we feel it every day here in Arizona. We have people separated every day-- children left with other parents.
REV. SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: Our partners, Tonatierra, who are a key partner with us in the Arizona Immigration Ministry as well as the work that the Unitarian Universalist Association did around SP1070 They made a specific request of the delegates at GA. And that was to educate ourselves on the Doctrine of Discovery and to pass a business resolution that would call on President Obama to fully implement, without exception, the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People.
TUPAC ENRIQUE: The US is the last country on this planet that haven't stepped in to endorse, full endorsement and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which for the first time in over 500 years acknowledges that we are to be treated as peoples equal to all other peoples on the planet.
SALVADOR REZA: We want people to realize what's going on and put pressure on the Obama administration-- or whatever administration might come afterwards-- to come in kicking and screaming into the 21st century and basically declare that the Doctrine of Discovery was a doctrine of conquest and domination and basically say we don't want anything to do with that.
REV. SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: Some Of the analysis coming from Tonatierra and the indigenous community in Arizona is about how SP1070 is a further colonization around the border. What that means is that, in effect, NAFTA and forces like that created a situation where you had a mass number of people come in to fill jobs in a booming economy here in the southwest of the United States.
And now you're trying to force people out and not recognizing that people are people. And they form roots. They marry. They have children. They build families. They're not commodities that can be moved back and forth over a border. They're people.
CARLOS GARCIA: Studying the Doctrine of Discovery, studying Manifest Destiny, studying all these issues and reasons to why we got here and how we got here is important and crucial to find the solutions of how we're going to change things here in Maricopa County and in this country moving forward.
DANIEL RODRIGUEZ: So within the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny, I think the most important thing that we can do is start to remember who we were as a nation, to really start thinking about who we are now and coming up with solutions about who we want to be in the future. [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC]