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Doctrine of Discovery: Get educated on forgotten indigenous cultures

Laura Maginley
Assoc. News Editor

Millersville University students received a lesson on indigenous nations this past weekend during the “Doctrine of Discovery” event held on Saturday. The Native American culture was discussed, such as their traditional values and views on health and education.
“Oftentimes, some students have thought Native American Indians are extinct like the dinosaurs.  The vast majority of Native people reside in the Western part of the country,” explained Carolyn Rittenhouse, secretary of Educational Foundations and a Millersville graduate.
The event featured Marta Benavides, peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2005, who shared her experience with indigenous issues at a global level, and Jeff Worley, a Millersville University graduate and local attorney.  Worley shared his studies on federal Indian law and issues affecting the international indigenous populations, including “The Doctrine of Discovery.”
“The Doctrine of Discovery Forum will shed light on a document that was utilized as legal and religious justification for European exploitation of indigenous populations throughout the world,” said Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse also spoke at the event by sharing a recent article published in “The National Geographic” that focused on the state of Oglala Lakota Sioux National in South Dakota.  She is a member of the Lakota Sioux Nation and has worked extensively on the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge Reservations of South Dakota.
“I hope that students will be receptive and recognize that the situation of indigenous peoples vary based on the different regions and countries in which they live and that nationalities and cultural backgrounds also need to be taken into consideration,” explained Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse and Cheryl Desmond attended a United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May, 2012 in New York City.
“It was an eye opening experience to learn about the effects that colonialism has had on Indigenous nations around the world,” shared Rittenhouse.  The two brainstormed a way to fight against injustices and improve lives by inviting MU students to join the cause as well with this lecture.
Overall, they hope that Millersville University become actively involved in global issues, because they are all responsible for making the world a better place.