— Meet Mark —
Mark Charles is running as an Independent Candidate for President of the United States to build a nation where -for the first time- ‘We the People’ truly means:
The birth of WIRELESSHOGAN
Mark’s WRitings from the Navajo Reservation as a tech consultant
Excerpts From Mark’s Signature article: “When I Grow Up I Want to be a Shepherd”
“I remember [my Grandfather] telling me stories about when he used to herd sheep as a child. That is until he was 'enrolled' in school. At a young age my grandfather was removed from his home and sent to a boarding school. There he was forbidden from speaking Navajo, practicing Navajo traditions and culture, and even learning from his elders.
I moved with my family from where we were living in Denver, CO back to the Navajo Nation. Ever since I left for college and especially as I began raising a family I began to realize how important it was to understand who I was and where I came from. I wanted to understand and speak the Navajo language and to become familiar with our culture and traditional way of life.
My family and I moved back to the Navajo reservation and were given an opportunity to live in a one room hogan out on a sheep camp located on a dirt road six miles off of the nearest paved road. For three years we lived there with no running water or electricity. We had a dirt floor and an outhouse about 50 yards away. Sheep, cows and horses frequently grazed right outside our door, and we lived alongside and at the mercy of the elements (wind, cold, heat, rain, snow and mud).
I miss my grandparents and often wish they could have lived long enough to see the full circle I have traveled. I know my grandfather would be proud of where we live and how we are raising our children… [they]will have the opportunity to say "When I grow up. I want to be a shepherd."
stepping off the reservation
The temptation is to stay on the reservation and remain silent – to stew in my hurt and allow my emotions to fester. It is tempting to say, if no one remembers us, than we should just forget about them. But that will not lead to reconciliation…
God has continually called me to step off of our reservation and to give myself to relationships. Not to assimilate and 'fit in' with everyone else. But to introduce myself as a Navajo man and invite people into friendship.
This is not the final solution. It is a step. It is only an entry point into a much larger process and a much bigger dialog. But we have to start somewhere. Our world, our country, our churches and our people are divided. There are generations worth of injustice, shame, hurt and anguish that drives fear into our hearts and fuels our isolation. And we are frequently just sitting in silence and stewing in our insecurities. I am not offering a solution, but rather a step. Can we stand up, put aside our insecurities, look each other in the eye, extend our hands and say “Ya’at’eeh”?
Exposing a Buried Apology
CNN covers the story of Mark’s efforts to Publicize an APOLOGY FROM The U.S. GOVERNMENT TO NATIVE PEOPLES that was buried in the 2010 department of defense appropriations act.
“Buried on page 45 of the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act, after pages on the maintenance and operation of the U.S. military, is an official apology to Native American people.
Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation, stumbled onto the apology about a year ago after he heard GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney say that he would never apologize for America. That comment didn't sit well with Charles…
‘As a Native American, I feel offended that the apology was buried in this bill,’ he said. ‘It demonstrates our country is not ready to apologize.
Personally, I don't think it's a very good apology,’ he said. ‘It does not mention any specific tribe or any specific incident.’
It also contains a disclaimer at the end: nothing in the apology could be used in a court of law against the United States.
‘I don't believe it's an accident that our people are marginalized,’ he said. ‘Our country is so undereducated in Native American history that most people don't even know why the country is apologizing.’”
A Public Reading of the Apology
Mark hosts a public reading of the buried U.S. Apology to Native Peoples in front of the u.S. capitol in Washington D.C.
“On December 19, 2012 I had the privilege of hosting a Public Reading of the Apology to Native Peoples of the United States in front of the US Capitol in Washington DC. This apology was buried in H.R. 3326, the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. It was signed by President Obama on Dec. 19, 2009 but was never announced, publicized or read publicly by either the White House or the 111th Congress.
It was an honor to stand in front of our Nation's Capitol with a diverse group of citizens, and communicate the "Apology to Native Peoples of the United States" to our elders, to Native communities and, to all US citizens throughout the United States. I am DEEPLY grateful to everyone to supported and encouraged this event and especially to those who were able to attend and stand with me in person. Ahe'hee.
The Doctrine of Discovery, a Buried Apology and An Empty Chair
Mark writes about how an apology for generations of genocide could be buried so deep and not make any public waves
December 19, 2014 was the 5th anniversary of an apology given by the US Congress and the President of the United States on behalf of the citizens of the United States to the Indigenous peoples of this land. Unfortunately, this apology received very little, if any, press over the past half-decade. It was inserted by Senator Sam Brownback (KS) into House Resolution 3326, the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act and buried on page 45 in sub-section 8113.
This seven bullet point apology contained no reference to any specific tribe, treaty or injustice and ended with a disclaimer. It was inserted into this bill because Senator Brownback had tried unsuccessfully for about 2 years to get an apology into a stand-alone bill. But that bill never made it out of committee. So he inserted it into an appropriations act. Apparently that was how Congress historically passed Indian Treaties. They found that there was less likely to be opposition when the treaties were a part of large appropriation bills.
The bill passed and went to President Obama's desk to be signed on December 19, 2009. The signing of this bill was private and there was no press conference regarding it. The White House did release a press release about the bill, but no mention was made of the apology contained within it.
You may be wondering how this could be. How could a bill containing an apology from the United States Congress to Native Americans for centuries of injustice be buried so deep and not make any public waves in either political circles or in the media?
I believe it is because of the history this apology is attempting to address. It is a history that is not taught in schools. A history that our leaders don’t know well, but are terrified is true. And a history that most citizens are too ashamed to learn even exists. It is a history that goes back centuries and affects the very foundations of this nation.
Moving to D.C. for Change
Mark and his family are now in D.C. —
Advocating for Creating Common Memory with
a Truth + Conciliation Commission
watch Mark’s Tedx Talk below which explains the plan for a Truth & Conciliation Commission:
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