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Doctrine of Discovery and Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Doctrine of Discovery

Unitarian Universalists repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, a relic of colonialism having no place in the modern day treatment of Indigenous peoples.

For more than 45 years, Unitarian Universalists have pushed for justice for Indigenous peoples, passing a number of resolutions and actions of immediate witness. The 2012 General Assembly in Phoenix, AZ passed, at the request of immigration justice partners, a resolution condemning the Doctrine of Discovery and calling on Unitarian Universalists to study the doctrine and its impact on current-day policies, programs and beliefs.

Learn more about the Doctrine of Discovery and find ways to respond to the call to action in the 2012 resolution. Find resources to help you build partnerships for education, climate justice, and advocacy for the rights of Indigenous peoples.

What is the Doctrine of Discovery?

Portrait of Joseph Story

The 1493 Doctrine of Discovery guided the colonization of the Americas and became part of U.S. American law, history, and dominant culture.

View multimedia about the doctrine

Why does it matter?

Ware Lecturer Winona LaDuke addresses General Assembly 2010

The Doctrine of Discovery is built into U.S. government, laws, dominant culture, and the way we think about problems that face our nation and world. It is a frame that hides in plain sight, and its devastating effects continue to this day.

Explore the doctrine's effects today

Repudiating the Doctrine

Ted Fetter chairs the mini assembly reviewing the 2012 resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery

The 2012 UUA General Assembly passed a resolution repudiating the doctrine and calling for the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Learn about UUA and other faith community resolutions

Acting Locally

Youth drawings in response to question "What Will You Do?"

The 2012 General Assembly resolution called on Unitarian Universalists to act in their local contexts to identify and expose the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery and work to undo those impacts.

Find Out What Unitarian Universalists Can Do

Congregational Stories

People walking in a group near water and mountains in Hawaii

A number of Unitarian Universalist Congregations are implementing the Doctrine of Discovery resolution locally. Find out about them, and tell us about your own work: adultprograms [at] uua [dot] org

Learn what local congregations are doing

Canadian Unitarians Seek Reconciliation

etched glass chalice made by Wade Stephen Baker, Kwakiutl Artist.

In 2014, the Canadian Unitarian Council and the UU Ministers of Canada committed to the journey of healing and reconciliation between Canadian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, by providing educational materials, building cross-cultural relationships, and advocating for justice.

Find out about Canadian reconcilitation

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For more information contact adultprograms@uua.org.