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We begin this episode with a land acknowledgement.

In this podcast episode, hosts Phil Arnold and Sandy Bigtree interview Dr. Dana Lloyd, author of the book “Land is Kin: Sovereignty, Religious Freedom, and Indigenous Sacred Sites.” Dr. Lloyd discusses her research on the intersection of law and religion in settler colonial contexts, specifically focusing on the United States and Israel-Palestine. She examines the case of Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, a landmark Supreme Court case on Native American sacred sites, and explores the tensions between the sacredness of land and property rights. Dr. Lloyd also discusses the importance of indigenous sovereignty and the challenges faced by indigenous peoples in navigating the legal system. The conversation highlights the ongoing impact of the Doctrine of Discovery and the need for a deeper understanding of indigenous perspectives and values.

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Show Notes

Our recent podcast episode features an intriguing exploration with Dr. Dana Lloyd, Assistant Professor of Global Interdisciplinary Studies Affiliated Faculty, Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova University. This episode delves into the intricacies of sacred land, indigenous rights, and sovereignty.

We begin with an exploration of what it means for land to be sacred. The episode sheds light on the Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, case’s impact on both Indigenous and settler communities. The Lyng case brought into sharp focus the tension between Indigenous sovereignty, religion, and property law. As Dana guides us through the case, we’re prompted to challenge our preconceptions about land, sovereignty, and religious freedom.

The conversation then ventures into the intersection of environmentalism and Indigenous rights. Through this lens, we examine the concept of wilderness. This perspective contrasts the Indigenous view of land as a gift of life against the colonizers’ perspective of domination and extraction. The concept of wilderness has often been used to justify the possession and genocide of Indigenous peoples, yet it is also seen as fundamental to American political thought.

We then delve into the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty, religion, and property law. The Lyng case, argued as a case about religious freedom, relied heavily on other precedent cases. Dana guides us through the complex landscape of these legal decisions and their implications. She helps us understand the conflicting symbols of democracy and authoritarianism that still exist in the United States today. The question of law’s function when it comes to Indigenous peoples is a pivotal part of the conversation.

The episode then discusses the complex realities of genocide, settler colonialism, and Indigenous sovereignty within the context of Native American history and ongoing struggles.

Throughout the episode, Dana highlights, the complexities of land rights, and the ongoing tension between Indigenous sovereignty and settler law. Her expertise and unique background offer an in-depth exploration of these critical topics, shedding light on their implications in contemporary society.
This episode invites us to reflect on our own perceptions of land, rights, and sovereignty. It challenges us to engage more deeply with the narrative of indigenous rights and sovereignty, prompting us to reconsider our perspectives and broaden our understanding of these complex issues.



  • Music: Onondaga Social Dance songs performed by Orris Edwards and Regis Cook
  • Producers: Jordan Loewen-Colón and Adam DJ Brett
  • Show notes: Adam DJ Brett


Philip P. Arnold and Sandra Bigtree, “S03E05: Land is Kin: Indigenous Rights and Sovereignty with Dana Lloyd,” Mapping the Doctrine of Discovery (Podcast), December 6, 2023. https://podcast.doctrineofdiscovery.org/season3/episode-05/.

This podcast is licensed under the Creative Commons by the Indigenous Values Initiative.
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