PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The day after Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the First Nations Leadership Council — a group of political executives that head the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs — issued a statement calling for King Charles III to acknowledge “historic crimes” committed by the United Kingdom.
“The First Nations Leadership Council acknowledges the passing of Queen Elizabeth II,” the statement reads. “She was the longest reigning monarch in the history of the British Crown, and the FNLC offers condolences to her family as they grieve. Queen Elizabeth’s successor, King Charles III takes on a great responsibility as the representative of the Crown, with whom all Indigenous peoples in Canada have a direct relationship.”
With this transition of power, the FNLC is asking the new king to renounce the policies Great Britain and other European countries used to claim lands once controlled by the Indigenous people of North America.
“The FNLC believes his first official act must be renunciation of the Doctrine of Discovery,” the tribal leaders stated. “The Doctrine of Discovery dehumanized non-Europeans while empires waged war and stole lands, resources and wealth that rightfully belonged to Indigenous peoples all over the world. We call for this international law doctrine to be renounced by the King of England.”
The Doctrine of Discovery, as defined by Cornell Law School, was the principle international law used by Europeans to legitimize the colonization of lands inhabited by non-Christians. This policy directly contributed to American imperialism and the genocide of the native peoples of North America.
“With a change in Canada’s head of state, it’s time for a change in the Crown’s approach to Indigenous sovereignty,” the FNLC said. “With the new British monarch, King Charles III is in a position to acknowledge the historic crimes committed by his predecessors and set the stage for a new relationship with Indigenous peoples around the globe. As an advocate on climate change, King Charles III must take strong action to mitigate climate change in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.”