Steven Newcomb: Old religious ideas influence federal Indian law

Steven Newcomb. Photo from Finding the Missing Link

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute traces federal Indian law and policy back to its original source: religious doctrine that views indigenous people as heathens and savages:
While listening to National Public Radio the other day, I heard a story about a strange proposal being made in Pakistan. It would legally allow husbands to chastise disobedient wives. Understandably a great deal of outrage was registered in response to a proposal which would take from the past very antiquated ideas about man having a rightful dominion over woman, and apply those antiquate ideas in the present day context of the modern world.

I found myself wondering if National Public Radio will ever run a story about the fact that the United States government is still using antiquated Old Testament ideas and images against our Native nations. The United States is using those ideas as a way of claiming that the U.S. has a rightful dominion over non-Christian nations. After all, the United States is still using those Old Testament ideas about Manifest Destiny against our nations in the context of the modern world, all in the name of maintaining U.S. federal Indian law and policy.

In his book Culture on the Moving Frontier (1955), Louis B. Wright points out: ”The political doctrine of Manifest Destiny which played such an important part in westward expansion was a natural outgrowth of the Puritan belief that they were God’s chosen people.” The Puritan’s got that belief from the Old Testament, and we can find the roots of that manner of thinking in accounts dating all the way back to the Roman Emperor Constantine.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Old Testament Premised Arguments Still Being Used Against Our Nations (Indian Country Today 6/15)

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