Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery
By Steven Newcomb
Paperback: 224 pages
HERE'S THE BLURB:
Pagans in the Promised Land provides a unique, well-researched challenge to U.S. federal Indian law and policy. It attacks the presumption that American Indian nations are legitimately subject to the plenary power of the United States. Steve Newcomb puts forth a startling theory that U.S. federal Indian law and policy are premised on Old Testament narratives of the chosen people and the promised land, as exemplified in the 1823 Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh, that the first "Christian people" to "discover" lands inhabited by "natives, who were heathens," have an ultimate title to and dominion over these lands and peoples. This imporant addition to legal scholarship asserts there is no separation of church and state in the United States, so long as U.S. federal Indian law and policy are premised on the ancient religious distinctions between "Christians" and "heathens."
In "Pagans in the Promised Land," Steven Newcomb...argues that Indian law scholars fail to appreciate the religious dimensions of Marshall's decision. Newcomb, who is Shawnee/Lenape, also breaks new ground by making use of "the tools and methods of cognitive theory" in order to expose-and challenge-the "negative, oppressive, and dominating concepts that have been mentally and, from an indigenous perspective, illegitimately imposed on our existence." While other scholars have explored the religious underpinnings of the doctrine of discovery, Newcomb offers new insights by consciously connecting "the biblical basis of the claimed right of Christian discovery and dominion" with the "mentality of empire and domination." By its use of cognitive theory, Pagans in the Promised Land presents a new perspective on the doctrine of discovery. Newcomb forcefully argues that an essential part of the decolonizing process "must occur in the mind." His book sets forth a fresh way to think about, and decode, federal Indian law. --Great Plains Research Vol. 19 No. 2, 2009 from the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln by Blake A. Watson, University of Dayton School of Law