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  • Writer's pictureJean Shinoda Bolen

One of 13 Original Grandmothers Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance on Papal Bulls

A copy of handwritten letter dated March 2009, an appeal to Pope Benedict XVI, from Grandmother Beatrice Long-Visitor Holy Dance, Oglala Lakota Nation regarding the three Papal Bulls which are the foundation of the “Doctrine of Conquest” or “Doctrine of Discovery” made me want to circulate the information in it, and possibly inspire further inquiry and advocacy. It had been sent from Grandmother Beatrice (now deceased) to Anele Heiges, O.P., who was then the president of the International Policy Institute, a UN NGO. Anele Heiges is a Dominican sister, and a supporter of the Millionth Circle and 5WCW at the UN, we have been in the activist-trenches together since I went to the CSW at the UN in 2002, she much longer.

Grandmother Beatrice was one of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers assembled in 2004) all of whom I met shortly after they came together and from time to time thereafter met some of them at conferences, especially at Bioneers. The Council went to the Vatican in July 2008, prayed and did ceremony, and requested a meeting with the Pope, which was declined. In 2013, Pope Francis (named after Francis of Assisi) born in Argentina in 1936, became the first Pope from the Americas. I wonder if Pope Francis unlike Benedict XVI would be receptive. 

Grandmother Long wrote: “Unfortunately, relationships between nation-states and tribal peoples in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania rests on the the doctrines that can be traced directly to three papal bulls: Dum Diversas (June 18, 1452). Romanus Pontifex, January 8, 1455. and Inter Castera, May 4, 1493. These papal bulls gave dominion to Europeans over lands that our tribal nations have occupied for thousands of years, and the outright  theft of entire continents from our indigenous people worldwide. It has been over 500 years since these papal bulls were written, yet they remain the spiritual, legal, and moral foundation for exercising jurisdiction over tribal people by nation states today."

Grandmother Long asked Pope Benedict “to remove these Papal Bulls. An act like this would create a global healing of all the injustices suffered by indigenous people . . .and could also bring healing to those who committed these injustices.” (there is a mystical sense of healing all generations, past as well as present and future). 

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