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Friday, September 10, 2010

All music is political, even when it isn't

We had hoped to stage the American Premiere performance of

Gunther Schuller's Witchi-Tai-To: The music of Jim Pepper

at Trinity Cathedral on October 7, 8 and 9, but the stars did not line up for those dates.

We are doubly disappointed, as the Schuller concert series would have been followed on Sunday, October 10, Columbus Day, with a powwow organized around the Episcopal Church's Resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery!

"The Doctrine of Discovery is the dogma that Christian sovereigns and their representative explorers used to assert dominion and title over non-Christian lands with the full blessing and sanction of the Church. The Royal Charter, issued in 1496 to John Cabot and his sons by King Henry II, led to the colonizing dispossession of indigenous peoples from their lands in North America and to the dehumanization and subjugation of non-Christian peoples (which the monarchy termed “heathens” and “infidels”).

"The charter specifically authorized John Cabot and his sons 'to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown to all Christians.' The Charter also reads in part, 'John and his sons or their heirs and deputies may conquer, occupy and possess whatsoever such towns, castles, cities and islands by them thus discovered that they may be able to conquer, occupy and possess, as our vassals and governors lieutenants and deputies therein, acquiring for us the dominion, title and jurisdiction of the same towns, castles, cities, islands and mainlands so discovered.'”

The Doctrine of Discovery was fundamentally the license with which Europeans granted themselves the right to steal, to kill, to rape and to enslave as they saw fit...and they always saw fit.

The Doctrine of Discovery led directly to the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny, and with it--here in Oregon--just over 150 years ago--to the forced relocation of Native people from sites they had occupied for thousands of years onto reservations, and to the Termination policies of the 20th Century.

The Resolution – "put forth by the 188th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine – would put the Episcopal Church on record condemning the Doctrine of Discovery and supporting indigenous peoples in their call for the repudiation of the 1496 Royal Charter issued to John Cabot and his sons and other similar Royal Charters which sanctioned European invasion of the western hemisphere.

"The resolution also calls upon each diocese to reflect upon its relationship with the indigenous peoples within its area to understand the history of its relationship with them, to build a relationship with all such Peoples, and to support them in their political and legal struggles for their inherent sovereignty and fundamental human rights."

Here's a draft design of the poster that the Oregon Episcopal Diocese was preparing for the event:

We will call a Steering Committee meeting in the next couple of weeks to start working on 2011.

The Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery events are still taking place, at St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Sunday, October 10, from 3 pm to 6 pm.

Maybe I'll see you there.

Sean Cruz

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