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Renouncing the Doctrine of Discovery/Reclaiming Mother Earth

By Phil Lane, Jr., Mikuak Rai, and Audri Scott Willi


Hidden Springs participants – Photo: URI

Hidden Springs participants – Photo: URI

Hidden Seeds of Natural Healing & Curing was held last July, a gathering of 33 indigenous representatives from six continents, including two youth, ages 13 and 14, a council of leaders gathered to reflect on the global situation they and their peoples face. Hosted by United Religions Initiative’s Global Indigenous Initiative, participants met for three days near Napa Valley in Northern California.

The purpose for convening was to engage in critical dialogue about practical issues and concerns facing indigenous communities worldwide and the whole human family, including the ongoing impact of colonialism. The group began developing a strategic plan for the Initiative’s future, a future growing out of traditional ways of knowing and being.

For more than a decade, Hidden Seeds co-convener and Quechua elder Alejandrino Quispe, along with a contingent of Latin American indigenous peoples, have held the vision for this initiative. Following the recent unanimous ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court to grant a major land claim title to the Tsilhqot’in First Nation; Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s announcing a plan to buy and return disputed ancestral lands to Chile’s indigenous communities; and a formal apology by the U.S. State of Tennessee to descendants of indigenous nations who suffered and died on the infamous “Trail of Tears,” the Hidden Seeds of Natural Healing & Curing council was well-timed.

“We found a family from all parts of the world that is passionate about strengthening indigenous values and improving the lives of indigenous people,” said Diane Longboat, a Mohawk and Turtle Clan representative from Six Nations Grand River Territory in Canada. “Prophecy has called us to the center stage of humanity as indigenous nations to bring ancient knowledge systems and spiritual practices from our respective civilizations to the resolution of modern issues and reconciliation of relationships for the Great Peace.”

“We realized we were not alone and must do this work together,” she continued. “Being a global indigenous family is needed now. A great wave of change for peace has begun to roll over the face of Mother Earth.”

Among the outcomes of the gathering was the unanimous agreement to work together, building on existing efforts, to have the Papal Bulls of 1452-1493 renounced by Pope Francis. Known collectively as the Doctrine of Discovery, they provided legal sanction and promoted Christian conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian territories and peoples the world over. The Hidden Seeds council – and the communities and peoples they represent – seek issuance of a full apology to indigenous peoples worldwide and to all in the human family who have suffered untold, immeasurable, long-term damage and hardship from the papal Doctrine of Discovery.

Ceremony at Hidden Springs – Photo: URI

Ceremony at Hidden Springs – Photo: URI

Initiative participants felt encouraged about this being a critical time to retract and denounce the Doctrine of Discovery, considering recent statements Pope Francis has made about the environment and human ecology: “When I look at America, also my own homeland, so many forests, all cut, that have become land...that can no longer give life. This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to give us what she has within her.”

Denouncing the Doctrine of Discovery with a full apology is essential to shifting the paradigm of the exploitation and devastation of indigenous peoples and their rightful lands worldwide. For 500 years these Papal Bulls have been used to justify the displacement and annihilation of indigenous peoples, along with occupation of their ancestral homelands for the benefit of a global expansion of colonialism. Taking this stand is the best place to allow the healing that must happen to begin. It can raise the awareness that indigenous people have value, meaning, and wisdom that can help us shift today’s cultural paradigm for the wellbeing of all of life and the sustainability of Mother Earth.

Additional action areas discussed include:

(1) supporting the global emergence of the “Seventh Generation,” as promised, by fostering youth participation, leadership, and wisdom in all decision-making processes impacting life on Mother Earth;

(2) creating sacred gardens in each region to preserve, protect, and perpetuate plant life and healing herbs important to indigenous communities;

(3) accurately depicting indigenous arts and cultures through the media as expressions of the sacred;

(4) preserving and protecting sacred sites, retrieving heirloom sacred objects dispersed throughout the world, and returning them to their rightful owners;

 (5) galvanizing connections with various global networks to support the Global Indigenous Initiative and its efforts;

(6) stopping the assault on Mother Earth by extractive industries that are destroying the waters and causing an egregious imbalance to the natural environment; and

(7) facilitating decision-making by leaders that is good for seven generations into the future, known by indigenous people as “seven generations” decision-making.

The Story of “Hidden Springs” – Video: Mikuak Rai, World Bridge Media

“The Hidden Seeds Gathering was yet another fulfillment of indigenous prophecies across the Americas and beyond,” said Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr., member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and Chickasaw Nation. “These prophecies clearly foretold that after a long spiritual wintertime of 500 years, indigenous peoples would spiritually arise, with the support of other members of the human family, and become so enlightened that they would illumine the world. Those gathered, unanimously acknowledged that this promised time is now!”

Hidden Seeds was virtually attended through #HiddenSeeds and supported by ‘space holders’ from around the world who offered their prayers, intentions, and well wishes via social media as the event took place.

A longer report of Hidden Spring is available here.