Resources on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and Impacts

The Doctrine of Christian Discovery is the 15th century justification for European subjugation of non-Christian peoples, which has ongoing impacts on America’s Native Peoples.  These Papal Bulls gave Christian explorers the right to claim lands they had “discovered” and lay claim to those lands for their Christian Monarchs.  If the “pagan” inhabitants converted they might be spared.  If not, they could be enslaved or killed.  The Doctrine was responsible for great injustices to Native Americans, the impact of which endures today.  In the U.N. Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples we find the seeds of change, but the Papal Bulls have never been rescinded.

More information about the Doctrine of Christian Discovery is available on including lists of denominations and religious congregations that have adopted statements of repudiation.

The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has developed information on the current impact of Indian boarding schools, compiling much in an article entitled, "Let All That is Indian Within You Die!" Another website with links to boarding school historyis the Boarding School Healing Project.

To read the complete 2014 Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) assembly resolution, click here.

Dakota 38+2” is a beautiful film about reconciliation and healing, recommended by Paula Palmer, facilitator of a workshop titled “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples.” Paula is the project director and can be reached at