May 11, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Hawaiians and The Doctrine of Discovery

2 min read

Is it illegal to claim an national identity in Hawaii? Americans have occupied the Hawaiian nation for 117 years, so why are they so threatened by Hawaiian nationalism?

Is it illegal to be Hawaiian?

Yes is the short answer.

The long answer goes at least back to the Papal Bulls and the nature of human beings to justify their actions. My understanding has been an evolving process and because people feel a need to justify their behavior, no matter how immoral or reprehensible, we have some chance for peace.

Why did the Europeans of the fifteenth century and Pope Nicholas V feel the need to create a Papal bull that justified the taking possession of land and the human beings of newly discovered lands? Why not just say we do not care whos there and it becomes ours because we can enforce the taking with military force?

I believe the first aim was to settle claims of newly discovered lands between the military powers of their day. This also served to prevent challenges to claims by one European power aligning with an original nations people against the claims of conquest. More interesting to me is the habit of Anglo-European cultures need to assign status to all things in nature. I believe this comes from a Biblical notion of man having dominion over all things created by God on earth. This created a concept that nature described by plants, animals, land, water and air remained in service to man, western man.

So it follows that to categorize people who could be separated by skin color, language, culture, Gods and basically being unknown to them created dominion over them. Original nations people got put into the animal category and so slavery was legitimized. It was a small thing to decide back in the 1493 when the Pope granted Spain all land south and west of the Azores. This included its people as slaves and all their rights to lands they held.

Another way to look at this is to remove the Papal bull and the doctrine of discovering and look across the ocean from Spain and what do we see?

I see many nations of many different people, occupying lands of their ancestors from the beginning of time. I concede their were struggles among those nations and it was not a perfect life free from internal conquest. What it wasnt was Terra Nullius [unclaimed land] or an unconcerned limited use of land, opening it up to anyone who would use the abandoned interest [there was no abandoned interest].

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