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The Quinault Nation and the Claimed Right of Domination

In a February 17, 2015 article titled “Lake was never given to the tribe” posted on, 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.”

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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.