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Native Americans call for an end to 500-year-old papal bull.

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Some Native American activists have called on Pope John Paul II to formally revoke a 500-year-old papal bull which, they say, has helped Christian nations justify their seizure of indigenous lands.

In an open letter to the pope, the activists requested the repeal of the Inter Cetera, a document issued in 1493. "It has received lots of interest and support from people all over the world," said one of the activists, Birgil Kills Straight, an Oglala Lakota Indian from Kyle, S.D.

The papal bull decrees, the activists say, that "barbarous nations," discovered and yet to be discovered, should be "subjugated" to the Catholic faith in order to propagate the Christian empire.

Kills Straight said he hopes to bring the letter to a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland, in February.

Joining him, he said, will likely be other indigenous people, including Steven T. Newcomb, Shawnee-Delaware Indian in Eugene, Ore., the letter's primary author, and Maria Braveheart Jordan, a Hunkpapa Lakota Indian in Denver who also contributed to the open letter.

She told NCR: "Part of our healing as Indian people comes from validating and grieving the trauma that was inflicted on us by the church, as well as the state."

At stake in this country, according to Newcomb and Kills Straight, are lands sacred to Native Americans such as Paha Sapa (the Black Hills) in South Dakota -- which the Sioux nations have struggled for years to have returned to them -- and Mount Graham in Arizona, where the Vatican and other parties built a controversial observatory despite the objections of traditional Apache Indians.
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Title Annotation:'Inter Cetera' 1493 papal document
Author:Walsh, Catherine
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Oct 22, 1993
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