Doctrine of Christian Discovery Podcast cover photo.

special  · 20 Feb 2024

Betty Lyons: Understanding the Doctrine

Episode 1 Doctrine of Christian Discovery Podcast Special Season

⤓ Download a transcript of the Episode as a PDF // Listen to the podcast on MegaphoneSpotify or AppleListen on Good Faith Media.


We begin this episode with a land acknowledgement.

The podcast explores how a centuries-old Christian doctrine encouraged conquest and colonization of non-Christians – and how its legacies still affect various lands and peoples.

Special guest: Betty Lyons, president and executive director of American Indian Law Alliance.

Don’t forget to leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts.

Show Notes

  • The origins and impact of the little-known “Doctrine of Christian discovery”. 0:03
    • Betty Lyons discusses origins of doctrine of discovery, its impact on Indigenous peoples, and efforts to revoke its principles.
  • The Doctrine of Discovery and its impact on indigenous peoples. 3:43
  • The Doctrine of Discovery’s impact on indigenous peoples. 13:30
    • Pope Francis’ actions have been impressive, with a focus on coming to terms with atrocities committed by larger institutions through colonization.
    • The Doctrine of Discovery has had a profound impact on indigenous peoples, severing their connection to the natural world and leading to oppression and land grabs.
  • Indigenous rights, land ownership, and the Doctrine of Discovery. 22:29
  • Indigenous perspectives on Christianity and colonialism. 29:23
    • Betty Lyons emphasizes importance of recognizing and addressing the Doctrine of Discovery’s impact on indigenous peoples’ land rights and power dynamics in the US.
    • Onondaga Lake’s contamination is linked to the power of the lake and the Peacemaker, and peace cannot come without proper relationship with nature.


Prelminary Study

The Written Preliminary Study Shows ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ Legal Construct Historical Root for Ongoing Violations of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Permanent Forum Told

Prepared and presented by Tonya Gonnella Frichner North American Regional Special Rapporteur  April 27, 2010

The “Preliminary study on the impact on indigenous peoples of the international legal construct known as the Doctrine of Discovery” (E/C.19/2010/13) presented at the Ninth Session authored by Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esq. (Onondaga Nation), former North American Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We recognize the legal construct known as the Doctrine of Discovery has global implications. As established in the preliminary study and reaffirmed in the more recent study, as mentioned above, the Doctrine of Discovery has been invoked as a justification for the ongoing exploitation of our lands, territories and resources which violates UNDRIP Article 7, the collective right to live in freedom and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or violence including forcibly removing children of the group to another group. 

➞ Read the Preliminary Report (PDF)


  • Hosts: Mitch and Tanner Randall, Good Faith Media.
  • Executive producers: Mitch Randall, Good Faith Media; Philip P. Arnold and Sandy Bigtree, Indigenous Values Initiative; and Adam DJ Brett, Syracuse University and American Indian Law Alliance.
  • Producer: Cliff Vaughn.
  • Editor: David Pang.
  • Music: Pond5.
  • Production Assistance: American Indian Law Alliance.
  • Sponsors: The Henry Luce Foundation; Syracuse University; Indigenous Values Initiative; American Indian Law Alliance; American Indian Community House; Good Faith Media; Tonatierra; and Toward Our Common Public Life. We appreciate your support.


Mitch and Tanner Randall, “Betty Lyons: Understanding the Doctrine,” Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Podcast), February 20, 2024.

This podcast is licensed under the Creative Commons by the Indigenous Values Initiative.
This site was created with Stackbit and is maintained by Adam DJ Brett.