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We begin this episode with a land acknowledgement.

In this episode of the Mapping the Doctrine of Discovery podcast, hosts Phil Arnold and Sandy Bigtree interview Professor Tink Tinker, an expert on Native American issues and the excesses of Christianity among Native American peoples. Tinker discusses his background as a citizen of the Osage Nation and his renouncement of Christianity after writing a book on the genocide of American Indians by Christian missionaries. He highlights the tension between individual salvation in Christianity and the communal focus of Native American spirituality. Tinker also discusses the impact of Christianity on Native American communities and the erasure of indigenous people in Europe. The conversation touches on the film “Killers of the Flower Moon” and the Sand Creek Massacre, as well as the presence of Native American spirituality in academic institutions. Tinker shares his work at the Four Winds organization and the efforts to address the history of the Doctrine of Discovery at Iliff School of Theology, including the repatriation of a book cover made from the skin of a murdered Lenape Indian. The episode concludes with a discussion on the importance of education and the need for collaboration between Native and non-Native academics.

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Show Notes

When we consider the history of colonization, its long-standing effects on indigenous populations cannot be overstated. This week’s episode is packed with important stories and content for anyone interested in the Doctrine of Discovery. This week, we sit down with Iliff School of Theology Professor Emeritus Tink Tinker. The episode is a profound exploration of the indelible legacy of Christian colonization on Native American communities and the remarkable resilience they have shown in the face of systemic erasure and oppression.

At the heart of the episode lies the cultural clash instigated by the spread of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and the subsequent impact it had on Indigenous communities. The Doctrine of Christian Discovery, a policy that essentially granted Christian explorers the right to claim lands inhabited by non-Christians, has had catastrophic effects on Native American populations. This historical directive not only sanctioned the seizure of land but also facilitated the suppression of Native American identities and traditions. The podcast delves into how early Christian missionaries implemented brutal conversion strategies, leaving a trail of cultural devastation that resonates to this day.

The conversation then transitions to the portrayal of Native Americans in contemporary media, particularly in Hollywood. The episode critiques recent cinematic portrayals of the Osage people, noting how the depth and resilience of Indigenous experiences are often overshadowed by the entertainment industry’s fixation on celebrity and sensationalism. Through the lens of this critique, the episode reflects on the role of American Indian academics in advocating for a more accurate and respectful representation of Native narratives, both in film and in scholarly discourse.

A particularly evocative part of the dialogue recounts the transformation of the Living Waters Indian Episcopal Mission into Four Winds, illustrating the resurgence of indigenous cultures and practices within a space once dominated by Christian worship, providing a tangible example of #landback. This transformation is emblematic of the broader cultural revival taking place within Native American communities, a testament to their unyielding spirit and commitment to preserving their heritage.

Moreover, the podcast touches on the grim history of atrocities such as the Sand Creek Massacre and how such events have been commemorated and acknowledged—or in many cases, overlooked—by American institutions. These narratives bring to the forefront the necessity for institutions to address past transgressions and engage in the ongoing work of restitution and healing.

The episode concludes with a discussion of the enduring presence of Indigenous histories and the significance of collaboration and education in moving forward. It highlights the importance of honoring the memory of those who suffered under colonial oppression and recognizes the persistent efforts of indigenous academics and activists to ensure that their stories are not forgotten.

This podcast episode serves as a poignant reminder of the struggles and triumphs of Native American peoples and underscores the importance of understanding and confronting the shadows of historical injustice. As we continue to learn from and engage with these narratives, we are reminded of the essential work that lies ahead in the pursuit of truth and healing.


  • Philip P. Arnold and Sandra Bigtree, “Ten Religious Themes of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (DoCD) that Contrast with Indigenous Values,” Doctrine of Discovery Project (26 September 2022), https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/10-religous-dimensions/.
  • Philip P. Arnold, _The Urgency of Indigenous Values, (Syracuse: SU Press, 2023 (Forthcoming)), https://press.syr.edu/supressbooks/5835/urgency-of-indigenous-values-the/
  • Tink Tinker’s publications:
    • American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty (2008);
    • Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation (2004);
    • Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Genocide (1993).
    • He co-authored A Native American Theology (2001);
    • He is co-editor of Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance (2003)


  • 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, “S04E04: Reckoning with the Legacy of Colonization: A Dialogue on Native American Erasure and Resilience with Tink Tinker,” Mapping the Doctrine of Discovery (Podcast), April 22, 2024. https://podcast.doctrineofdiscovery.org/season4/episode-04/.

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