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Editor’s note: this transcript combines two films originally recorded by Jason (Justify My War).

Steven Newcomb: Pagans In The Promised Land
Speaking at Bluestockings Bookstore, New York City,
during 8th Annual UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, May 2009

video, mp3 (8:44)
Steven Newcomb presents an overview of some of the elements in his 2008 book, Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum 2008, Chicago Review Press, libraries). This includes the Doctrine of Discovery, secret language of empire, colonization, papal bull documents, the effects on Indigenous Peoples and all peoples resisting these ideas.

Looking at the origins of words, the history of words, every word has a history. It’s important to know that history because we want to be sure that language is not using us when we think we’re using language and trapping us in certain ways. There are many pitfalls in the English language that are not noticed. There’s a secret dimension to English, it’s called the Arcana Imperii, the Secret Empire. There are secrets of the Secret Empire and that’s the covert hidden dimension of the language system.

For example if I hold up this book right here, and you see that title [Let Freedom Ring] what does that make you think of, this particular word? Anyone. Anyone I don’t know.... Okay, free. Let freedom ring.

The point being that when most people see this word they think “free.” Now let me give you an example of an iconic symbol in this society that goes with this. It’s the Liberty Bell. Let freedom ring. What’s fascinating about that is it’s actually a symbolism of a paradigm I’m going to be describing to you and it’s a paradigm of domination.

When you look at that bell what’s it resting under? It looks like this in shape, has an opening there where the bell goes inside of it, and that’s called a yoke. So that bell is under the yoke. And under the yoke in latin is subjugate [from sub- (under) + jugum (yoke)] subjugate. That dome represents the dome of empire. When you see the word “freedom”, the dom on the end is actually a Latin term meaning lord. And so that goes with the concept of lordship.

For example the term christendom; I looked this up in Latin in some of the papal documents that I mentioned a few minutes ago, and I was struck when I noticed that it actually is expressed in Latin with the terms dominorum Christianorum. Dominorum in Latin is a tyrant or dictator. So dominorum—it really would be said to be a tyranny. Dominor is the tyrant, domitor is the tyrant. Dominorum is a state or condition of tyranny. So Christianorum is the adjective that describes the type of tyranny. So it’s a Christian tyranny, Christian dictatorship.

That’s amazing if you think about that. So the dom, D O M, lord, is talking about a ruler. Someone that’s up high compared to the people who are down below.

The other thing that’s interesting when you go back and look at the colonization of the Americas, the colonization of the globe, and you look at certain Vatican documents in history beginning in, we’ll say 1418, just to pick a date; 1418, 1436, 1452. When you look at the document from 1452—it’s called the Dum, D O M, but it’s spelled D U M—the Dum Diversas, it has terminology in there that explains a paradigm, a pattern of thinking, a pattern of thought, a system of thought. Something that an Indigenous woman in the Canadian context said recently, ‘We’re really dealing with an idea. We’re dealing with the system of ideas.’ And that’s the enemy that we’re really dealing with.

So when I quote this document, listen very carefully to these key words, because it authorized the King of Portugal to go to the coast of Africa, the western coast of Africa, and here’s the quote:

to invade, ... capture, vanquish, subdue all Saracens, pagans ..., and other enemies of Christ (non-Christians in other words) ... to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery (and to take away all of their possessions and property).

Now that’s amazing. These are techniques, these are methodologies: invade them, not just in terms of their territory, but invade them in terms of their emotional being, their mental being, their physical being, and all aspects of their lives. Capture them in the same way on all different levels of their existence. Vanquish them which means to break the spirit of the people. Reduce them—that word reduce is a key term in terms of the methodology that I’m talking about. Now what’s the best use of language and English as far as reducing something or talking about something that’s been reduced? It’s the letters S U B, “sub”. I’ll get further into that in a moment.

In that document it also says that the King of Portugal is authorized by the Pope to convert the land. To convert the property of these non-Christians. Now in that context they’re not talking about converting people. They’re talking in a legal sense about wrongfully or unlawfully appropriating that which belongs to someone else. That’s the legal term, “convert” or “conversion”. But because it’s the Pope issuing this directive, he declares it to be just and lawful.

Now if you go to 1493, shortly after Cristóbal Colón went to the Caribbean and went back to Christendom, you see several other documents. One is called the Inter Caetera Papal Bull from May 4th, 1493. That one calls for “barbarous nations” to be subjugated—so that’s that term subjugate, under the yoke—and to be brought to the Catholic faith and Christian religion in order to propagate the Christian Empire, to plant the Christian Empire. The planting goes with the term colonization, colere, to cultivate and to design. So these are all patterns of planning, patterns of designing.

And when the Pope has this kind of language in there, he also says that the propagation of the Christian Empire is something that is done in a way that’s fascinating when you look further on into the document. Because it says, “We trust in Him” (with a capital H on Him so we know who that’s referring to) “from whom empires and governments and all good things proceed”. When you look at the term “governments” in Latin, in the Latin version of the text, guess what the word is for governments? Dominationes, dominations. So the singular term for government is domination.

So when we’re at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and we hear people saying, ‘Well the government is doing this and the government is doing that’ and so forth; but if we were using the Latin term we would actually be saying ‘the domination is doing this and the domination has done that to us.’ And we would name it by the Latin name. Which would give us a completely different understanding of what it is we’re actually dealing with.

And Indigenous Nations and Peoples understand this more fully perhaps than many others because we’re the ones that are, and have been, suffering the brunt of this attack for five centuries, of this system of thought I’m describing.

Now the reason why these documents are so important with regard to Indigenous Nations and People’s issues is because it actually goes back to something in the Old Testament, the idea of a chosen people being given permission by God to go to another people’s land and to take over those peoples’ lands and to actually utterly destroy them, such as you find in Deuteronomy 20, verses 10 through 18: ‘Save alive nothing that breathes as the Lord thy God has commanded you.’

That gives you a hint of some of the the Old Testament ideology that is also wrapped up in this. It’s not only that. It’s Roman law, it’s a whole bunch of things. But that’s a major part of the cultural fabric of this system that we’re talking about this evening.

The other thing too is that the United States government actually adopted this system that I’m describing to you into US law and policy in 1823 in a decision called Johnson versus McIntosh. Without getting into all the particulars about the case, it really was a case that was supposedly a land dispute case. An argument by two parties over the same parcel of land. An industrious law professor found out that the two parcels were not within 50 miles of each other so it was actually a faked case to begin with.†
†  See: Walter Echo-Hawk Presentation in the 2013 International Seminar on the Doctrine of Discovery beginning at 35:81 describing the four factors of how the case was fraudulent: tainted by bad ethics, the forces of racism, forces of economic greed for Indian land, and the forces of colonialism; and Chapter 4, “Johnson v. M’Intosh: How The Indians Lost Legal Title to America” from his 2010 book, In The Courts Of The Conqueror - The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided wherein Echo-Hawk writes, “The proceeding was as crooked as a barrel of snakes ... infested by intolerable conflicts of interest among the attorneys.” (Read reviews by Newcomb, Utacia Krol, in Libraries, or purchase.)
But it was an opportunity for the Supreme Court and, Chief Justice John Marshall, to use this dominating paradigm that I’m referring to, to say that when the first Christian people arrived to a land inhabited by natives who were heathens—and those are his words—and he put italics on the words “Christian people” to emphasize that point,‡ that those Christians have the right to assert or assume the ultimate dominion—there’s that framework again, dominare and so forth—to be in themselves and the so-called heathens only have a right of occupancy meaning they have the right to occupy that which is now presumed to belong to the dominorum Christianorum. Now he’s not saying that, dominorum Christianorum, he’s using the term “ultimate dominion” which appears to be something different. But when you trace the lineage of these terms and the history of these terms back to their origin, you find that that’s actually the starting point.
‡  The specific sentence reads, “So early as the year 1496, her monarch granted a commission to the Cabots, to discover countries then unknown to Christian people, and to take possession of them in the name of the king of England”; 576, original copy at Library of Congress (click PDF thumbnail at top).

The key aspect of this is dehumanization. This is critically and fundamentally important to understanding what’s happening to people all over the planet at this time. Dehumanization is every time that they use the terms “heathen,” “savage,” “pagan,” “infidel—take your pick—“barbarous nations,” “barbarism”—all these adjectives are techniques, linguistic techniques to dehumanize people out of existence or to dehumanize them to a substandard level, a level of subservience and subjugation and so forth, so that the people who want to presume themselves to be in control and in charge and have the right to all the resources and minerals and so forth, the timber and the water, and all the processes of mining the planet, and mining our minds and mining us as human beings, that can be carried on without question.

This is why they attack the languages. This is why they try to destroy our languages. Sometimes Indigenous people even themselves say, ‘Well we lost our language.’ You lose your keys. You don’t lose your language. This was an intentional effort to kill our languages. This is called linguicide or languacide, the killing of a language or the killing of many languages for purposes of control.

If you have control of the people’s minds, to the control of their children’s minds, over generations, what ends up happening is that the colonizing, dominating system of thought takes over and the people are no longer able to think and to create reality in their own Indigenous way of doing that and carry on their traditional way of life. You cut them away from their land. Deny them access to their traditional, spiritual places and their ceremonial traditions. Go after the medicine people, go after the medicine women, go after the herbs, go after everything that will enable the people to be free within themselves.

We have documentation of this dehumanization in every single court case that they have orchestrated with these terms. In every single document that they have put out where they were planning in the 1800s how to do this to our children. How to do this to our people. Like elders that told me that when they were little and they were caught speaking their language their tongue was put on dry ice so the top layer of skin was peeled off their tongue. They didn’t just do that to us, they did that to the Indigenous people in the Maori. They did it to the Aboriginal people in Australia. They did it to Indigenous peoples everywhere.

Then they leave the wreckage of all that dehumanization in the community so that it becomes a self-destruct mechanism. They don’t even have to be there anymore. They just sit back and watch. So everything disintegrates, means falls apart, instead of the people being able to come together. And then you keep them impoverished in such a way that they’re not able to regain their balance.

Today what we’re doing is we’re beginning to join together to share stories and to share the common understanding of what we’ve really been up against here. I think that we need to now take it to the next level to really begin to get this information out there in a very effective way. Because it’s really something that’s being perpetrated against every person on the planet. All the peoples on the planet. Not just us. There’s not us and them in terms of human beings. But we’re all in this together. So this is a very critical time because of climate change, because of all the things that are going to be happening and we need to see us come together.

See Also: annotated transcript of Steven Newcomb Keynote, “Toward a Paradigm Change for Mother Earth – Understanding the Empire Domination Model of Christianity: A Way of Liberation,” delivered at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.

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