The Quinault Nation and the Claimed Right of Domination

Steven Newcomb

In a February 17, 2015 article titled “Lake was never given to the tribe” posted on DailyWorld.com, Guy Boudia builds his argument on a tacit and flimsy premise of Christian domination. He attempts to use this against the Quinault Nation, and by extension, against all the original and rightfully free nations of North America.

One argument Boudia makes is that Lake Quinault does not belong to the Quinault Nation because of what he euphemistically calls “the Doctrine of Discovery and Conquest from the 1400s European Law.” Boudia’s use of the word “conquest” suggests a rightful triumph and victory over enemy Indian nations. Indeed, by using “conquest,” Boudia has skillfully disguised the claimed right of domination that the United States has used and continues to use against all the nations of this continent, nations that were existing here free and independent before Christian European colonizers invaded.

The system of domination that Boudia used as the basis for his article has a number of sources, starting with Genesis 1:28 of the Old Testament, which instructs “man” to “subdue the earth,” and “dominate” all living things. Another related source is a series of documents issued by various popes of the Catholic Church in the 1400s. The Dum Diversas from 1452 is one such Vatican document that serves as part of the basis for Boudia’s argument against the Quinault Nation in the name of “1400s European Law.”

The Dum Diversas document was issued by Pope Nicholas V to King Alfoso V of Portugal. In it, the pope authorized the Portuguese king “to invade, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ,” “to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery,” and “to take away all their possessions and property.”

Numerous royal prerogatives and charters issued by the monarchies of Western Christendom used the same language system of domination. The John Cabot charter for example, issued by King Henry VII of England, authorized Cabot and his sons “to seek out, discover, and find whatsoever isles, countries, regions or provinces of the heathen and infidels, which before this time have been unknown to all Christians.” The theme of domination is expressed in the Latin version of the charter by such words as, “Subjugari” “Subjugare,” and “Dominium Titulum.”

The language from the papal edicts and from various royal charters, expressly state an intention to dominate “heathen and infidel” nations. In 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court officially adopted that same intention and system of domination into U.S. case law where, to this day, it is still being used by the United States against our nations. This is the Christian religious basis for Boudia’s statement: “No tribe owns the Federal Trust Land they use and occupy, it belongs to the [American] people.” He ought to have added, “by a claimed right of domination.”

It seems astounding that in 2015, Boudia is perfectly comfortable applying a religious framework of Christian crusade and domination to the Quinault Nation and Lake Quinault. Behind his wording about “the Doctrine of Discovery and Conquest of the 1400s” are the documents issued by Catholic popes and Christian monarchs in the 15th and later centuries. Boudia is arguing that it is perfectly valid and acceptable to apply to the original nations of this continent a domination form of thinking from the world of Western Christendom traced back to at least the 15th century. Is that his version of the “American way?”

Boudia’s underlying argument is this: It was valid and acceptable for Christian monarchs to have wrongfully imposed a system of domination on non-Christian Indian nations and their lands. And once they had done so, the imposed system of domination was passed by international treaty from one “domination sovereign-power” to another. Even if most of the people of those non-Christian nations have been baptized, and if many of them now consider themselves to be Christians, they are condemned to live forever under the imposed system of Christian domination. Why? Because our ancestors were not Christian when the representatives of Christian monarchs first invaded.

In his article, Boudia expressed an axiom in the following manner: “To the conqueror go the spoils and the conqueror is the ruling government.” Expressed from the viewpoint of our original nations that were invaded by the monarchies of Christendom, Boudia’s formula becomes: “To the Christian dominator go the non-Christian spoils and the dominator is the ruling U.S. government system.”

Boudia’s candor provides us with an opportunity to explain that 15th century documents form the basis for the present day claim of a right of Christian domination which is still being used by the United States, and by people like Guy Boudia, against our rightfully free nations and peoples. When is that system of domination going to be recognized for what it is, and brought to an end? No time soon, if Boudia has his way.

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is the co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. He has been researching and writing about U.S. federal Indian law and policy and international law since the early 1980s.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page




nonfedindian's picture
Mr. Newcomb, I agree that Boudia uses a ” flimsy premise of Christian domination” when he refers to “The Doctrine of Discovery and Conquest from the 1400’s European Law”. But he does cite one concept that actually predates the Christian Doctrine of Discovery and to which you yourself seem to acknowledge when you say “Boudia’s use of the word “conquest” suggests a RIGHTFUL (my emphasis) triumph and victory over enemy Indian nations.” This concept is cited by Boudia in the phrase, “To the conqueror go the spoils and the conqueror is the ruling government.” To quote a review for the book, “The Right of Conquest: The Acquisition of Territory by Force in International Law and Practice” written by Sharon Korman – “the notion that a state that emerges victorious in war is entitled to claim sovereignty over conquered territory in virtue of military victory or conquest was a recognized principle of international law until the early years of last century.” Forget the papal bulls which were written by men trying to use religion to justify a basic human practice that predates civilization and is the basis for numerous well-known idioms. To the conqueror go the spoils. Winner take all. Might makes right. This principle is even shown in the animal world with a prime example from the live-action movie “Chimpanzee” when two bands of chimpanzees go to war over a grove of nut trees. The winning band gets the grove. This same concept has been used by Native American themselves as, contrary to popular opinion, Native Americans were not always the peace-loving entities that revisionist historians and New Agers want to envision. At times Native tribes did war against each other over resources and the winner would then lay claim to those resources.
derrico's picture
Reply to nonfedindian: True that Indians had wars, but that is not the point about the doctrine of ‘christian discovery’ as adopted by the US Supreme Court in 1823. In that case, the court said the basis for US land title was discovery doctrine, not conquest. In fact, the opinion refers to its decision as an “extravagant pretension,” namely, “converting the discovery of an inhabited country into conquest.” It goes on to say that this “extravagant pretension” and the “concomitant principle that the Indian inhabitants are to be considered merely as occupants” “may be opposed to natural right, and to the usages of civilized nations” and that the doctrine is only “perhaps be supported by reason.” Nevertheless, the court concludes, the doctrine “cannot be questioned” and “cannot be rejected.” This is far from the principle of international law that applies to actual wars. It is, as Newcomb writes, a religious principle.
gboudia's picture
I am in no way on either side of the story. I used to locate desecrated Native American and Pioneer burying grounds. The comment mentions “flimsy premise”. I have documents, which Mr. Newcomb forgot to mention, that Congress in 1938 denied the land surrounding Lake Quinault, the recreational activities on Lake Quinault, and would not cede a lake in the state of Washington to the Quinault Tribe. The agreed upon boundary survey of the reservation 1902 of all seven fish eating tribes of the Pacific coast does not include Lake Quinault. The reservation borders the west end of the lake and no further. These are Congressional documents. Anyone can find this information on the Internet as I did.
rainbow's picture
nonfedindian, We evolved from an animal that evolved from Chimpanzees. Early on in the evolutionary process human beings developed spiritual relationships with the land they discovered and lived on. Beginning at this stage of evolution the guiding principle of all human beings should have been: “Do onto others as you would like others to do onto you.” At the time, it became a basic human right for all peoples to respect the property rights of other people. Just because this was not “a recognized principle of international law”, and the “papal bulls” did not recognize this basic human right, and because some Native American tribes did not respect other tribes’ property rights, these wrongs can not, therefore, be justify.
piqua's picture
To nonfedindian: Thank you for your comment. What is the main theme of this article? It’s found in the subtitle: “the Claimed Right of Domination.” Yet somehow you do not acknowledge this even once in your comment. At no point in your comment do you use the word domination. I do not say that conquest “is” a “rightful” triumph or victory over enemy Indian nations, merely that it “suggests” such an image. Without intending to, you have demonstrated my point: The word “conquest” is merely a cover word which is used for cleverly disguising a claimed “right of domination.” The word “conquest” (“conquer,” “conqueroror”) enable someone such as yourself to altogether avoid using the word domination or even acknowledge it as a phenomenon. Why you want to work to prove my argument wrong so you can justify the system of domination that the U.S. has used and continues to use against our originally and still rightfully free and independent nations is beyond me. Yet you have very skillfully avoided using the word domination because as soon as you do, you have no way back. Expressing and understanding one terminology in terms of another is called “transcoding.” To transcode the claim of a right of conquest as a claimed right of domination leads to the key point that there is no such thing as a “right” of domination. The claim of a right by one person to dominate another, or of one nation or people to dominate another, is invalid and immediately understood as wrongful. Conquest is a word designed by domination-society intellectuals to avoid this predicament. That’s appartently why you have avoided the term domination. All you’ve done is take Boudia’s original argument, phrased in terms of “conquest,” and thrown it back at me without once acknowledging my domination argument. Chief Justice Marshall did not say that the U.S. system is based on a military victory over Indian nations. In Johnson v. M’Intosh he referred to “the pretension of converting the discovery of an inhabited country into conquest.” Pretension means pretending. Transcoded, the Supreme Court’s argument becomes “we’re going to pretend to convert the discovery of an inhabited country into a right of domination, and then we’re going to pretend that this pretended right of domination has become the law of the land and cannot be questioned.” The fact remains that we have a perfect right, I’d say an obligation, to question and challenge an invalid claimed right of domination. So interesting to see you appear to justify the domination system of the u.s. as valid based on the system of domination identified by Ms. Korman.