We undertake the Long March to Rome to remember the countless millions of indigenous worldwide who for 500 years have suffered and died through the wars, forced resettlement, disease and conquest justified by two papal orders or bulls, called Romanus Pontifex (1455) issued by Pope Nicholas V and Inter Caetera (1493) pronounced by Pope Alexander VI.
These papal bulls are the “blueprints” for the Age of Discovery since they granted explorers the absolute right to:
“…invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed” and to “reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”.
Incredibly, neither of the two papal bulls has been officially revoked to this day.
While walking along the ancient Via Francigena to Rome, we shall also honour the courage, wisdom and spirit of our ancestors, who for 500 years have kept alive the traditional laws and culture that have governed the ways of indigenous peoples since time immemorial.
When we arrive in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City, we shall first call upon our ancestors and then with our minds, heart and soul ask Pope Francis I to join hands with us and declare to the world that no man woman or child should be considered a lesser human being because he or she does not worship at the same altar.
How do I join the Long March to Rome?
To join your indigenous brothers and sisters on the Long March to Rome, contact the LMR Coordinating Committee through our Contact form.
Can I support the Long March to Rome by a donation?
To make a personal donation to the Long March to Rome, click on: Donate now
How do I become a sponsor for the Long March to Rome?
To become a Long March to Rome Sponsor, contact the LMR Financial & Fundraising Committee through our Contact form.
My name is Himko Kaps Kap. My name was the name of my great-great grandfather who was a war Chief, the full brother to the Nez Perce Chief Toohulhulsote, from the Salmon River, Idaho. During a war with the United States, Toohulhulsote was killed at the Battle of Bear Paw in September 30, 1877. My ancestors were displaced after the Nez Perce war of 1877 with the United States. In the language of my forefathers, spoken since time immemorial, my name means “Shouter”. I was born into the Cayuse Nation located on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in present day Oregon.
Our ways have always been governed by the Tamalwit, our traditional law, and the Tamalwit is governed by the Law of the Creator from which all things come.
The Cayuse are peaceful, but when provoked are a warrior nation and a proud people and our traditional lands stretch far – to the East we have hunted Bison as far as the hills of Montana. In the West, we have fished in the rivers draining into the Pacific Ocean. Our reach stretches in the four cardinal directions.
Several generations ago, in the time of my ancestor, Marcus Whitman, a white man came into our midst at Waiilatpu. This man claimed he spoke in the name of God. We did not know this man and we did not speak his language, nor he ours. Soon thereafter, this man departed, only to return with one thousand white settlers and with these settlers a cloud of evil descended upon our lands. These newcomers had brought with them disease. Within a year of their arrival, half our people had died.
After killing off so many, these “settlers” told us that the land we had occupied since time immemorial, the land where we had fished and hunted, the land where we had prospered and raised our children, the land that held the bones of our ancestors, the land where our every act and belief and worship reflected the sacred tenets of the Tamalwit – was no longer our land, but belonged to the US government under a law. This law was called the law of conquest. We were told that our lands now belonged to another sovereign power, because this foreign monarch had “discovered” our lands.
And so the Cayuse, like so many other indigenous peoples, began our own walk along the trail of tears.
In 1823, Justice Marshall of the US Supreme Court ruled that when the European nations discovered America “they asserted the ultimate dominion to be in themselves; and claimed and exercised, as a consequence of this ultimate dominion, a power to grant the soil, while yet in possession of the natives.”
When I first heard this, I wondered how these foreign monarchs who had no knowledge of our ways or our lands and had never seen the Americas could assert the “ultimate dominion to be in themselves” even while yet in the possession of the natives?
And so I set out to learn how a foreign king could steal lands from my forefathers.
In this way, by searching and asking these questions, I learned that the right to seize the lands of my ancestors, and the right to enslave our peoples and the right to treat indigenous peoples as less than human was not originally created by the US government, nor by their judges, nor by the European explorers who first made these claims, nor even by the kings who had sent them to our lands. This right came from the mouths of two men who claimed to be speaking in the name of Creator five hundred years ago. These two men who claimed to speak in the name of God had a name for our sacred lands, lands upon which they had never set eye. They called our land Terra Nullius which means “land belonging to no-one”. So I learned that the right to claim all lands in America as Terra Nullius was not created by the US government or courts. Nor did it begin with the explorers nor even the Kings of Europe. The right to seize our lands on the basis of Terra Nullius was created by a man who claimed he was the successor to St Peter himself, the Pope in the Vatican, and who proclaimed he spoke in the name of God.
In 1455, Pope Nicolas V issued a papal bull titled Romanus Pontifex, under his authority as “Vicar of God” and authorized King Alfonso of Portugal to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue pagans and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed”, and “to seize all the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”
In 1493, following the return of Christopher Columbus from America, Pope Alexander VI issued a new papal bull, titled Inter Caeteras. This bull drew a line on a map from the Arctic pole to the Antarctic pole and granted to the Spanish kings of Castile and Leon dominion forever over all the “islands and mainlands found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered towards the west and south, …no matter whether the said mainlands and islands are found …”. Only the lands claimed by other Christian monarchs prior to 1493 were not subject to the claim.
These Popes, speaking in the name of God, had given the divine order to reduce non-Christian peoples to slavery and to rob us of everything that was rightfully ours. I had searched and searched and now, I had finally discovered the law of the white man. The law of the white man was Terra Nullius – that any man who did not worship at the altar of Jesus Christ could be seen as less than a human being, and any manner of harm could be done to such a man in the name of the Christian god.
With this knowledge, I looked beyond the sufferings of my own people and I learned about the suffering of my aboriginal brothers and what had been done in the name of this Terra Nullius, the doctrine that said our lands were empty because we were lesser than the Christian peoples and not human beings. See Terra Nullius and Land Grabs
I learned how the explorer Jacques Cartier kidnapped the sons of the great Iroquois warrior Donnacona and paraded them before the courts of King François 1st like circus animals. I learned how the great Pawnee nation had been forced to march out of their lands along the trail of tears and be resettled against their will. I learned how the government to the North had outlawed the culture and history of its original peoples and promoted their sterilization to “kill the Indian within”. I recalled the decimation of my own people by disease brought in by the white man, the hanging of our leaders and the seizure of our lands because we would not plough the soil in the way of the white man. I recalled the sufferings of my own people and those of my brother aboriginals and I wept that such devastation could be brought by such a lie.
The two papal bulls of 1455 and 1493 stand untouched to this day, not as historical documents but as the word of God, handed down by the representative of Jesus Christ on earth. As long as these bulls stand unchallenged, they support and justify and give holy justification to the enslavement, displacement and genocide of indigenous peoples worldwide.
If we are to put an end to this five hundred year suffering brought on by this lie, then we must first shout out the lie to the world, and then we must bring back the truth.
In the year 1515, 500 years ago, King Francis 1st acceded to the throne of France. This was the king who would see the great Iroquois Donnaconna and his sons paraded like circus animals by the explorer Jacques Cartier in the Court of Fontainebleau after being kidnapped from their lands.
Now, five hundred years later, I shall stand with the hereditary chiefs of my people, the Cayuse and others, at the place of shame where a European King treated a noble warrior like an animal. From there, I shall walk along the Via Francigena through the old roads of France in the direction of Rome.
When we arrive, we shall directly petition the Pope, Pope Francis, and ask him to finally expose the Papal Bulls of 1455 and 1493 as lies, and crimes against humanity, and have them rescinded. We believe that Pope Francis will receive our petition and hear our plea, and recognize this evil which was first spawned within the gates of the Vatican itself.
HEAR THE WORD OF THE COYOTE…