Repudiation Statement Finalized

At Seattle Mennonite’s congregational meeting on Dec. 9th, 2013 – we embraced the final wording of a repudiation statement of the Doctrine of Discovery. This is an important step in committing ourselves to a posture of listening and learning from the community of indigenous people and discerning our community response. We have now joined the congregations of many denominations who have been leading this ecumenical effort to repudiate and dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery.

The Global Movement can be followed here: http://www.dismantlingdoctrineofdiscovery.org/

“Seattle Mennonite Church seeks to live in a just peace with our fellow human beings, both as individuals and as peoples. Throughout the world, within the United States, and within Washington State, indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices.  Many times they have been dispossessed of their lands, territories and resources via colonization, treaties, and governmental and corporate exploitation.  We confess that we, as individuals and as a congregation, have benefited from the historical and institutional actions and policies carried out against indigenous peoples both here and abroad.  In response, the Seattle Mennonite Church endorses and supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted September 13, 2007.

We honor the inalienable rights that sustain the existence of indigenous peoples. Indigenous people have rights to their homeland, water, spiritual practices, language, cultural practices and self-government. Indigenous people have the right to make decisions and conduct international relations on their own behalf.

Catholic church documents such as Dum Diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex (1455)  were designed to award sovereignty of discovered lands and indigenous peoples; to exclude other European nations from claiming such lands; to call for non-Christian peoples to be invaded, captured, vanquished, subdued, and reduced to perpetual slavery; and to have their possessions and property seized by Christian monarchs.  Subsequent European monarchs likewise granted commissions for the right of discovery to “undiscovered” land, notwithstanding their occupancy by indigenous peoples.  Collectively, these and other concepts form a paradigm or pattern of domination that is still being used against indigenous peoples by governments and corporations throughout the world.  We condemn and reject this so-called “Doctrine of Discovery.”

We commit ourselves

* to recognize our own participation in the structures of power at the expense of indigenous rights;

* to work with indigenous peoples to carry out the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

* to speak to governments and corporations whose policies undermine indigenous rights; and

* to bring these concerns to the denominational family for future action by Mennonite Church USA.”