Doctrine of Discovery

The Doctrine of Discovery is an international legal principle constructed by european christian nations in the fifteenth century to justify their dominance to indigenous peoples and their lands, territories and resources in the non-Christian countries around the world. Its application continues today and sets the foundation of the laws in colonial states – the united states, australia, new zealand and canada.

Examples of its contemporary application:

  • The exploitations and human rights violations of indigenous peoples and their lands by canadian mining, oil and gas corporations including Barrick Gold Corporation, Goldcorp Inc. Enbridge Inc. and TransCanada Corporation.
  • The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Keystone XL pipeline, Pacific Trails Pipeline and Kinder Morgan pipeline project
  • Plan Nord of the quebec government
  • Ring of Fire in northern ontario.
  • Cultural appropriations such as Olympic mascots and Hudson Bay Co. sweaters.

Doctrine of Discovery is also the theme of this year’s UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples concluded on Friday, May 18. In the permanent forum, the representatives of indigenous nations not only spoke about the ongoing impacts of this doctrine on their people but also recommendations on how to redress these impacts.

We felt that this important topic is worthy our attention and understanding as it is a rationalization which underpins the colonization of Turtle Island (aka North America) and other parts of the world. It legitimizes the morally condemnable, socially unjust and racist policies against Indigenous peoples worldwide.

3 great resources on this Discovery Doctrine: