Home | Appeal to the Vatican | Delegate to the Vatican | Updates | contact information | | | | Bottom Logo goes here
B U L L S N E W S
October 13, 1997
HONOLULU -- A handful of human rights activists gathered outside the downtown offices of the Catholic Diocese on Sunday to protest today's observance of Discovers' Day.
The protesters burned copies of a papal bull written in 1493, the year after Christopher Columbus discovered America.
The group claimed Columbus used the papal document to claim power over the indigenous peoples of the New World.
Over the years, the contents of the bull ``have been encoded in international law and federal Indian law in the United States to define native peoples as inferior peoples -- culturally, intellectually, religiously and genetically,'' said Nalani Minton of the Indigenous Law Institute.
The activists have begun a campaign to get Pope John Paul II to revoke the bull.
[Photo by Dennis Oda. Caption reads: Kekuni Blaisdell, Eunice Ishiki-Kalahele and Nalani Minton share a hug as Hank Raymond, who is 100 percent Native American, talks about what burning a "papal bull" means to him during a ceremony last night.]
Columbus Day, or Discoverers' Day as it's called in Hawaii, is offensive to the indigenous people who inhabited lands that European explorers found, said speakers at a contra-celebration.
"The term discovery meant to rob us, the idea is `we discover something and its ours,'" said native American Hank Raymond. "Don't continue to teach your children the lie that `discovery' is."
Raymond, who is of the Okanogan and San Poil tribes of Washington state, spoke at a Fort Street Mall gathering last night to oppose the holiday timed to mark the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' 1492 arrival in the New World. In Hawaii, the holiday also marks the arrival here by English Capt. James Cook.
The demonstration by about 40 people was held outside the offices of the Roman Catholic diocese. The group burned copies of papal bulls, 505-year-old documents in which the Pope sanctioned Spanish and Portuguese dominion over lands in Africa and the Americas and called those countries to convert the native people to Christianity.
The theme of subjugation of one culture over another still sets the tone for the United States in its dealings with native people, said Tony Castanha, of Caribe ancestry. "It has been the basis of laws, of court decisions ... the same Christian-heathen relationship is used to deny rights."
Castanha called for the modern Catholics [people of conscience] to persuade Pope John Paul II to revoke the bull of May 4, 1493 (emphasis T.C.). He and other participants read descriptions of Spanish atrocities against native Americans they conquered.
Hawaiian activist Kaleo Patterson said "at the least we are here to remove that brainwashing that has taken place."
Ralph Summy, director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace at the University of Hawaii, said "anytime you have one people chosen over another, there is going to be violence." That applies not just to cultures, he said, but to men assuming superiority over women, and "heterosexuals, over homosexuals, then you have homophobia and gay bashing."
"It's tough to be a Christian, with the things that have been done to native people in the name of Christianity," Lynette Cruz said.
"Indigenous peoples protest Bull"
[Photo caption reads: Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell passes out literature at the protest of the Bulls in front of Our Lady of Peace Cathedral.]
Oct. 12 -- Discoverer's Day. To many, this holiday celebrates various discoveries, all suggesting adventure, bravery, and excellence.
To those who organized the day's demonstration for human rights, Discoverer's Day means a long history of injustice and tyranny.
Nearly 50 HPU students and faculty joined the indigenous human rights activists gathered on Fort Street Mall in front of Our Lady of Peace Cathedral to protest injustice that they believe began with Columbus.
Demonstration organizer Tony Castanha, an HPU instructor and member of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace (MIP) claims that the term "discovery" cannot be used in reference to finding lands which were already inhabited. Castanha specifically condemned the actions taken by the Catholic Church that led to the 15th century establishment of its dominion over and subjugation of non-Christian people and their lands.
The doctrine that Christian European nations had "ultimate dominion" over the newly discovered lands of America was expressed in a Papal Bull, or letter, from Pope Alexander VI to the world in 1493. One of the goals of the demonstrators is revocation of this Papal Bull so that indigenous peoples can form a new relationship with the Catholic Church.
Standing by a palm tree with a sign that read, "Restore world peace: Burn the Papal Bulls," Ralph Summy of MIP said, "Anytime you have one people chosen over another, you will have violence." He called for an end to homophobia, racism, sexism, and other "evil isms."
Flames in a metal trash can engulfed copies of the 1493 Papal Bull, which had been passed out [to] those gathered.
Then the crowd formed a circle of clasped hands as the Indigenous Law Institute's Nalani Minton sang slow hymns in low voice. United, the fists of the group rose towards the darkening sky as Minton's voice called out, "End colonialism! End genocide! End racism! Reorganize the spirit and the peace of all living things!" (Andreas Arvman contributed to this article.)