New book on Doctrine of Discovery

Oxford University Press has just released in the United States and Canada the new book “Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies.” (The book has been available since August 5 in England, New Zealand, and Australia.)

Robert J. Miller, USA, co-authored this book with Jacinta Ruru from New Zealand, Larissa Behrendt from Australia, and Tracey Lindberg from Canada. The authors are all native professors who specialize in Indigenous law in their countries.

The book presents new material and shines a fresh light on the under-explored historical and legal evidence about the use of the Doctrine of Discovery in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.

These four countries were the only countries in the United Nations to vote against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007. It might be surprising that these four liberal democracies voted against native rights; but it is not at all surprising when one examines the legal history of these countries and their reliance on, and application of, the Doctrine of Discovery.

In fact, North America, New Zealand, and Australia were colonized by England under an international legal principle that is known today as Discovery. When Europeans set out to explore and exploit new lands in the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries, they justified their sovereign and property claims over these territories and the Indigenous Peoples with Discovery. This legal principle was justified by religious and ethnocentric ideas of European and Christian superiority over the other cultures, religions, and races of the world. The Doctrine provided that newly-arrived Europeans automatically acquired property rights in the lands of Indigenous Peoples and gained political and commercial rights over the inhabitants. The English colonial governments and colonists in North America, New Zealand, and Australia all utilized the Doctrine, and still use it today to assert legal rights and control over Indigenous Peoples.

Miller is a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School and a citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Ruru is a senior lecturer in law at Otago University in New Zealand and is Maori (Ngati Rawkawa and Ngai Te Rangi), Larissa Behrendt is a professor at University of Technology Sydney and an Indigenous Australian, and Tracey Lindberg is a professor at University of Ottawa and Cree.

The book is available on Amazon at this link

and can be bought from the publisher with a 20% discount through March 31, 2011 by using this flier.

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