A delegation representing Native nations whose homelands are in the United States and Canada traveled over 800 miles from Paris to Rome to deliver messages from Indigenous peoples around the world calling for the Vatican to revoke the Doctrine of Discovery. They arrived to meet with the Vatican on May 4, 2016 – 523 years to the day marking the issue of the Doctrine of Discovery, which had granted European powers (and later the United States) the “right” to colonize lands and peoples around the globe.
The delegation published a resolution that read in part:
WHEREAS: A. First Nations people and their descendants have suffered the effects of colonization by successive governments since before Canada was established based on a false doctrine of discovery — a doctrine which must be rescinded in order for healing and understanding between First Nations and Canada to truly begin.
In 2023, the Vatican finally complied and formally repudiated the Doctrine.
As reported by Nicole Winfield for the Associated Press:
The statement was a response to decades of Indigenous demands for the Vatican to formally rescind the papal bulls that provided the Portuguese and Spanish kingdoms the religious backing to expand their territories in Africa and the Americas for the sake of spreading Christianity.
Those decrees underpin the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a legal concept coined in a 1823 U.S. Supreme Court decision that has come to be understood as meaning that ownership and sovereignty over land passed to Europeans because they “discovered” it.
It was cited as recently as a 2005 Supreme Court decision involving the Oneida Indian Nation written by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Read more.
Learn more about the Long March to Rome, its history and organizers, and find messages to Pope Francis and other important documentary history at LongMarchtoRome.com.
This event is included on the Zinn Education Project’s Climate Crisis Timeline.