Minneapolis, MN—After decades of advocacy from Native leaders and advocates, the Vatican formally repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, which was created by the Catholic Church and later incorporated into US law. This doctrine led to the colonization and appropriation of Native lands and informed numerous harmful assimilation policies.

The following statement from Deborah Parker (Tulalip), CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, can be quoted in part or in full.

“While the Vatican’s decision to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery is the right one, it downplays the Church’s role and accountability for the harm it has caused to Native peoples. It does not change the fact that the Church’s views gave permission to colonizers to take Native lands and assimilate Native peoples.

This doctrine imposed itself into U.S. policies and played a crucial role in justifying the genocide of Native peoples. This led to a series of atrocities, including the forced enrollment of Native children into Indian boarding schools, and gave colonizers the license to steal lands and commit acts of violence against Native children and families for centuries.

We demand more from the Catholic Church. We demand more transparency, including access to Indian boarding school documents, which they have refused to provide. We demand that the Church returns lands to the Tribal Nations in which it operated Indian boarding schools.

We demand that the Church supports the Truth and Healing Bill, which would establish a federal commission and conduct a full inquiry into the assimilative policies of U.S. Indian boarding schools.

And we demand that the Church respects Tribal sovereignty and Indigenous ways of being. We believe these are ways in which the Church can begin to take accountability for their actions.”