What is the Doctrine of Discovery?

The Basics

For a quick breakdown of Doctrine of Discovery facts, see our DoD Facts page
For an overview of the Doctrine of Discovery in international and US law, check out the Wikipedia article on the Doctrine of Discovery

For a deeper dive, here is a growing list of helpful resources:


A Blog Series on the Doctrine of Discovery, published by Mennonite Church USA
By Coalition Co-Chair Sarah Augustine

An interview with Coalition Co-Chair Sarah Augustine

Blog by Jenn Carreto

Academic papers and reports

Indigenous Law Institute

United Nations

Church Resources

Mennonite Church Canada: Indigenous-Settler Relations Resources

Mennonite Word Conference’s Statement on Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Special Intotemak Trilogy, edited by Steve Heinrichs


Here are 3 studies that look specifically at ways the Church can engage in the reconciliation process: adopt and comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery; respect Indigenous spirituality. Honoring the call of Indigenous peoples from around the world, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has specifically summoned, not only the State, but all churches to embrace the TRC’s Calls to Action. 

Short articles written by both Indigenous and Settler authors, combined with poetry and visual arts provide a rich, engaging and accessible resource for individual and group conversation. Study guides are included in each volume. Several Coalition members are among the contributors.

“Wrongs to Rights: How churches can engage the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

“Yours, Mine, Ours: Unravelling the Doctrine of Discovery”

“Quest for Respect: The Church and Indigenous Spirituality”

Get a copy of the series at CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Center.


By Vine Deloria Jr.

By Robert J. Miller

By Steven T. Newcomb

By Blake Watson


This is a growing list. Please let us know of any other resources we should add!

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: