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Federal Indian law and policy to be discussed by guest speaker
Sunday, October 20, 2013

Federal Indian law and policy to be discussed by guest speaker

Steven Newcomb

Guest speaker Steven Newcomb will give a talk entitled, "The Right of Christian Discovery: American Indians as Infidels in U.S. Law," from 2 to 3 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14, in Williams Center Rooms G103 B and C.

Refreshments will be served, and the public is invited to attend.

Associate Professor Jennifer Hildebrand said that Newcomb will explain the religious and theological underpinnings of U.S. federal Indian law and policy. She adds, “When the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its opinion in Johnson and Graham's Lessee v. M'Intosh in 1823, it did not ‘describe’ an already existing reality. It mentally constructed a reality premised on the Christian "discovery" of and claim of Christian dominance over non-Christian lands. That conceptual framework has been used against original nations and people of Great Turtle Island ever since. A separation of church and state was made impossible, Newcomb contends, when religious words and categories were used to construct U.S. law and policy for American Indian nations and peoples.”

Currently the Indigenous and Kumeyaay research coordinator for the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, in the Kumeyaay territory now commonly called “San Diego, California,” Mr. Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) has been researching and writing about the origins of federal Indian law and international law since the early 1980s. As a co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, he has been particularly focused on the linguistic, cognitive, and theological systems that have been used against the Original Nations and Peoples of the Western Hemisphere, dating back to the monarchies of Western Christendom, and the so-called Doctrine of Discovery found in U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Sponsors of the event include the Native American Consortium, Interdisciplinary Studies, Center for Multicultural Affairs, Department of History, and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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