The Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Podcast

Uncover the deep structure of colonization that systematically deprives Indigenous Peoples of their human rights today.

About the show

In this podcast, an Indigenous woman and a white settler woman — both Anabaptists — uncover the deep structure of colonization that systematically deprives Indigenous Peoples of their human rights today. This deep structure — called the Doctrine of Discovery— is rooted in church doctrines that originated in the15th century and that still justify current laws and policies that justify the removal of land from Indigenous Peoples.

Together, Sarah Augustine and Sheri Hostetler started a coalition of Anabaptist people of faith that seek to dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery. Sarah is an activist and scholar, the descendant of the Tewa People, and a displaced person. Sheri is a Mennonite pastor in San Francisco and an activist.


  • Episode 9: Ask An Indian, Part One

    October 5th, 2021  |  37 mins 35 secs

    Have you ever had a question you wanted to ask a Native American but were too embarrassed to ask? In this recurring episode, Sarah answers your questions. In this episode, questions include:

    Do Native calls for land return mean that I have to give up my home?

    Doesn’t federal aid form an unhealthy dependency between the government and Indians?

    Are casinos bad or good?

    A friend has asked me to resist the Line 3 pipeline. But I know Native people who are in favor of the pipeline. Shouldn’t I wait to get involved until all Native people agree?

    What about the Cleveland Indians?

    Shoshone tribe of Death Valley:
    Lakota land recovery organization:
    Chief Wahoo and the Cleveland Indians:

    If you want to submit a question or two for a future episode, please do so at [email protected].

  • Episode 8: It's complicated: Land conservation and the Doctrine of Discovery

    September 20th, 2021  |  36 mins 20 secs

    Sarah shares with Sheri about her family's home and their work to be good stewards of the land through conservation and collaboration with the Yakama Nation. It has been a complicated process and they have found it hard because of policies directly tied to the Doctrine of Discovery.

  • Episode 7: ICWA

    September 7th, 2021  |  33 mins 57 secs

    The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a major piece of civil rights legislation for the Native American community, comparable to Brown vs. Board of Education for African-Americans. But in October 2018, a federal court in Texas struck down ICWA. This important law, passed in 1978, strengthened the legal rights of Indigenous families and specified that when Native children are removed from the care of their families, they will be placed in the care of extended family members, families in their own tribe, or Indigenous families from another tribe. In this episode, Sarah talks about why this legislation is so important and of the special role that Christian organizations have historically played in separating Native children from their families.

    As always, for more information please consult and Sarah’s book This Land is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.

  • Episode 6: How I Discovered I Was a White Settler

    August 23rd, 2021  |  37 mins 47 secs

    Sheri talks about how she “discovered” the Doctrine of Discovery and how her family’s history is entwined with the history — and present reality — of colonization. She unpacks the famous “Hochstetler Indian Massacre” story that is well-known in Amish and Mennonite communities. Both Sarah and Sheri address “What is settler colonialism”?

    Links to sources for this episode:
    Website of the Jacob Hochstetler Family Association —
    Definition of settler colonialism —
    Article on Old Colony Mennonites among the Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula —
    Article on “The Big Scoop” in Canada —

    As always, for more information please consult and Sarah’s book This Land is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.

  • Episode 5: Reverence vs. Faith, Part Two

    August 9th, 2021  |  31 mins 7 secs

    Sarah and Sheri continue the discussion of an Indigenous cosmology versus the Western worldview and how that impacts our Christian faith and practice.

  • Episode 4: Reverence vs. Faith

    July 26th, 2021  |  28 mins 16 secs

    Sarah and Sheri talk about Indigenous cosmology and how it differs from the Western worldview in ways that have led directly to our dominant culture having a distorted relationship with nature, with creation, and with the processes of life. Sarah constructs an Indigenous theology of creation based on Scripture. We talk about the difference between individual and structural sin, as taught by the Hebrew prophets and as interpreted through the rabbi Jesus. We contrast Indigenous cosmology and the prophetic vision with the “systems of death” that now run our world.

  • Episode 3: The Doctrine of Discovery and Me, Part Two

    July 12th, 2021  |  35 mins 1 sec

    Sarah and Sheri continue to explore how Sarah discovered the Doctrine of Discovery and its impact on her life. Sarah tells the story about how she ended up working with the Indigenous Wayana people from the Guyana Shield in South America, who were being poisoned by mercury from gold mining and had no legal recourse to end this, due to the Doctrine of Discovery. She also tells the story of her father, who grew up in a religious boy's school, and how she connected his story to that of thousands of Indigenous children who were placed in Indian boarding schools.

    chapter 4 in Sarah’s book, This Land is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.
    Video library of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
    For more information, go to, the website of the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition.

  • Episode 2: The Doctrine of Discovery and Me

    June 29th, 2021  |  38 mins 29 secs

    During this episode, Sarah and Sheri explore how Sarah “discovered” the Doctrine of Discovery and its traumatic impact on her life and on the lives of other Indigenous people. They talk about how this trauma didn’t just happen but was intentionally planned by the U.S. government through different eras of federal Indian policy that systematically dispossessed Native people of their land.

  • Episode 1: Why Are We Doing This Podcast?

    June 1st, 2021  |  32 mins 25 secs

    In this introduction episode hosts Sheri and Sarah share about themselves, their faith, their friendship and why they continue to work at dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. Stay tuned every other week for new episodes.