The 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called the church to confess its complicity and repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. The action also called for a review of the history of the doctrine and the writing of a report on the doctrine.
The Doctrine of Discovery was first articulated in 1452 by Pope Nicholas V as the Papal Bull “Dum Diversas” and in 1496 by King Henry VII of England as a patent granted to John Cabot, which authorized and justified the destruction, killing, and appropriating of the lands of indigenous peoples and nations. The Doctrine of Discovery was incorporated into U.S. law in the 19th century when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case, Johnson vs McIntosh, 1823, stating that European nations had assumed dominion over the lands of America upon discovery and as a result Native Americans had lost their rights to complete sovereignty as independent nations and retained a mere right of occupancy in their lands. A U.S. Supreme Court case as recent as 2005, City of Sherrill v. Oneida Nation of Indians, utilized the Doctrine of Discovery as legal precedent for the final decision. This doctrine laid the groundwork for the genocide of indigenous peoples around the world; the colonization of Africa, Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas; and the transatlantic trafficking in persons used as slave labor.
In recent years, partly in response to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, faith communities, including the World Council of Churches, have begun to examine the Doctrine of Discovery critically. This study has led the WCC and denominations in the United States to repudiate the doctrine.
- The Doctrine of Discovery: In the Name of Christ (43 minutes) | Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition (Anabaptist)
- Doctrine of Discovery (presentation by Dr. Roxanne Gould, All Nations Church UCC, Minneapolis, MN; 18 minutes) | United Church of Christ
- Discovered, or Stolen? (6 minutes) | United Church of Christ
- The Episcopal Church Exposes the Doctrine of Discovery (14 minutes) | Episcopal Church
- Rethinking Columbus Day according to the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A | United Church of Christ
- Living on the Path of Respect: A Worship Service on the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery | United Church of Canada
- 2017 Lenten Lament: Seeking Right Relations | United Church of Canada
- Native American Day in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) | Native American Intercultural Congregational Support
- The rich man and Lazarus and the Doctrine of Discovery | a sermon by Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, director of Transformative Peacemaking for Mennonite Church USA
- Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery | Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery | United Church of Canada
- Informe sobre Visiones eclesiales y sociales de los pueblos indígenas | Consejo Mundial de Iglesias
- Statement on the doctrine of discovery and its enduring impact on Indigenous Peoples | World Council of Churches
- Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery | Episcopal Church
- The Doctrine of Discovery | United Church of Christ