“Doctrine of Discovery”
collage, acrylic and oil on canvas, triptych
2018, by Vanessa Compton
The Doctrine of Discovery is a papal document that was issued forty years before Columbus’ voyage which declared war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioned and promoted the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories.
In 1823, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was quietly adopted into U.S. law by the Supreme Court and asserted that Christian European nations had assumed “ultimate dominion” over the lands of America during the Age of Discovery, and that – upon “discovery” – Native Americans had lost “their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations,” and only retained a right of “occupancy” in their lands. In other words, Indigenous nations of Turtle Island were subject to the ultimate authority and ensuing genocidal violence of the first nation of Christendom to claim possession of a given region of their lands.
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