Doctrine of Discovery and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Plymouth 400th Remembrance in 2020

Build for This by Molly Costello

Art by Molly Costello, used with permission.

To know where we are headed, we must be in touch with our theological and historical roots. A major focus of the 2020 General Assembly (GA) was partnership with Indigenous leaders in the Northeast and beyond to explore how to co-exist in right relationship with one another and the land we occupy.

Together, we deepened our understanding of Unitarian Universalism’s role in European settlement, 400 years since our direct religious ancestors on the Mayflower landed in Plymouth and began the colonization of what is now New England. Together, we delved into our theological and historical roots, bringing those threads into the present day and acting in solidarity with Indigenous communities.

This work is connected to the 2012 Responsive Resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and the 2016 Business Resolution “Thanksgiving Day Reconsidered”. The 2016 resolution calls on all Unitarian Universalists to “enter a time of education, careful reflection, and healing, during the years 2016-2021, and that special attention be given to the suffering, indignity, and loss that native peoples have suffered since the early 1600s”.

A new Action of Immediate Witness to “Address 400 Years of White Supremacist Colonialism” was overwhelmingly passed by congregational delegates.

Great intention and effort was put into creating meaningful programming on this topic, centering Native leadership and preparing for this General Assembly in relationship with the original peoples of New England and Turtle Island.

Some of these program are now available as part of a showcase of on-demand video recordings from GA, and are linked to directly below:

Worship & Featured Programs

GA Welcoming Celebration

The welcoming celebration centers Indigenous/Native UU voices as well as Jessie Little Doe Baird, Vice-Chairwoman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council

Settler Colonialism and a History of Erasure and Exclusion
Featured Speaker: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is a historian, writer, and professor emeritus in Ethic Studies at California State University. She is author or editor of 15 books, including ​the award-winning and 2019-2020 UU Common Read selection An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Her most recent book is Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. Forthcoming in 2021 from Beacon Press is Not “A Nation of Immigrants”: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion.

Service of the Living Tradition

Rev. Danielle Di Bona (Wampanoag) delivered the sermon for the Service of the Living Tradition this year.

Fahs Lecture: Reflecting on Teachings about Indigenous Peoples
Featured Speakers: Jean Mendoza, Ph.D., M.Ed, co-adaptor of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People, & Natalie Martinez, Ph.D., K’awaika-meh (Laguna Pueblo), author of the educator’s guide for An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People.

Sunday Morning Worship

The worship service will include a collection for the Tomaquag Museum, an indigenous museum featuring an extensive collection and archive of Southern New England tribal communities.


THE DESTRUCTIVE LEGACY OF COLONIALISM: The Earth is crying out for all her creatures - Three-part series:

Business Sessions

Includes the Courageous Love Awards (honoring Water Protector Prisoners & Family)