Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day – Burning of the Papal Bulls

This week, 350 Hawai’i religious pilgrims visited the grave of Father Damien in Belgium, before flying to Rome for the canonization of Damien on Sunday.   Father Damien is beloved because of his selfless devotion to serve the Hansen’s Disease patients, many of whom were Native Hawaiian, exiled in Kalaupapa, Moloka’i.  How ironic it is that Discoverer’s Day (Columbus Day) only days after Damien’s canonization, commemorates the beginning of the European genocide and colonization of indigenous peoples in the Americas, under the sign of the cross.

Since the Columbus Quincentennial in 1992, indigenous peoples have reclaimed October 12th as International Indigenous Peoples’ Day with celebrations and protests.   Twelve years ago, Tony Castanha, a Boricua (Puerto Rican) in Hawai’i who was reconnecting with his Taino ancestry, began commemorating the day with a ceremonial burning of the 1493 Papal Bull Inter Caetera. The Papal Bull was the holy decree which gave Columbus the Church’s blessing and authorization to “establish Christian dominion over the globe and called for the subjugation of non-Christian peoples and seizure of their lands.” This racist law became one of the foundations of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery and many laws authorizing the taking of native peoples’ land.

Now there is an international movement by indigenous peoples to revoke the Papal Bulls, and hopefully begin the unraveling of more than 500 years of genocidal laws.  Recently the Episcopal Church passed a landmark resolution entitled “Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery”.

Here is the announcement of the upcoming burning of the Papal Bulls in Honolulu:


12th Annual Papal Bulls Burning

(This year’s event is dedicated to the life of Kanaka Maoli warrior James Naiokala Nakapa’ahu)
In solidarity with indigenous peoples around the world, please join us for the annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Papal Bulls Burning ceremony in Honolulu on Monday, October 12, 5:00 pm, in front of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, 1184 Bishop St. (at the top of Fort Street Mall).

Indigenous peoples and supporters elsewhere are encouraged to organize a small ceremonial event and symbolically burn or tear-up copies of the May 4, 1493 papal bull “Inter Caetera” in demonstration against “Columbus Day,” or “Discoverer’s Day” as it’s known as here in Hawai’i. The document can be downloaded from our website at:


*Students are especially encouraged to attend in order to put theory into practice by linking the papal bulls issue with other important indigenous rights’ and global issues we’ve diligently covered in class.

Sponsoring organizations include: Kosmos Indigena, Ka Pakaukau, Matsunaga Institute for Peace, Ahupua’a Action Alliance, Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights, and the Kanaka Maoli Tribunal Komike. For more information, email: castanha@hawaii.edu, or phone (808) 737-6097.

*Indigenous peoples and supporters seek the formal revocation of the 1493 papal bull “Inter Caetera.” This decree was issued by the Vatican to Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Caribbean. Along with the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, it sought to establish Christian dominion over the globe and called for the subjugation of non-Christian peoples and seizure of their lands. As a result, an estimated 100 million indigenous peoples were killed off in the process of Europe’s colonization of the indigenous world. This papal edict has never been repealed and is the foundation-stone of the international system we live under today and directly related to the corporate-state-military plunder and rape of the planet, which is sometimes linked to the phenomenon known as “globalization.”
Aloha a hui hou.

In peace,

Tony Castana
Kosmos Indigena

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