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The Doctrine of Discovery and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

A talk by Douglas M. George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk
Wednesday, April 18, 7:30 p.m. at The Other Side, 2011 Genesee St., Utica
DOUGLAS M. GEORGE-KANENTIIO was born and raised on the shores of the Kaniatarowanenneh (St. Lawrence) River on the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. An award-winning writer and journalist, he has served the Mohawk Nation in numerous capacities, including as a land claims negotiator, a co-founder of Radio CKON, and the editor of the news journal Akwesasne Notes. He is the author of the books Iroquois Culture and Commentary and Skywoman: Tales of the Iroquois. From 1996 to 2002, he was a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian. He once had the honor of bearing the Olympic torch. He resides on Oneida Territory with his wife, the singer Joanne Shenandoah.

The Doctrine of Discovery, issued in 1493, provided a framework for Christian explorers, in the name of their sovereign, to lay claim to territories uninhabited by Christians. If the lands were vacant, then they could be defined as “discovered” and sovereignty claimed. Within the framework of the Doctrine, Indigenous Peoples in the Americas were considered non-human. The presiding theory of the time was that Indigenous Peoples, because they were non-Christians, were not human and therefore the land was empty or terra nullius. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, it is estimated that the Americas were actually occupied by 100 million indigenous people.

This talk is part of “The Big Conversation” lecture series, honoring Utica peace activist, Sunithi Bajekal.   It is free to the public.  For information contact Kim at 315 735-4825 or


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