Rhonda LeValdo in Native Currents. Discussion »
LAWRENCE, KANSAS One man is on a mission to make sure the public knows about an apology made to American Indians that was signed almost three years ago by President Barack Obama.
Mark Charles Navajo
Mark Charles, a Navajo from Fort Defiance, Arizona is traveling to communities to make both Natives and non-Natives aware of the little known apology put in a Department of Defense appropriations bill (HR 3326). The entire bill is sixty seven pages long and the apology is buried on page forty five. The bill was signed by President Obama December 19, 2009 with little publicity.
Charles made a stop at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas to speak to the students and faculty about his project. He spoke about the way politicians communicate with tribal nations, many times leaving them out, especially on the campaign trail.
“We are so marginalized that those seeking offices don't speak to us and just like this apology, they wrote it, signed it, but never communicated it to the tribes. I want this to be an opportunity for that conversation to be had between Natives and non-Natives.”
On the third year anniversary of this signing of this bill December 19, 2012, Charles will hold a reading of the entire bill at the US Capitol Building in Washington DC. He is also asking that the apology be read in different tribal languages including: Lakota, Navajo, Ojibwe and others if those tribes wish to translate it.
As part of Charles's presentation, he had the audience meet in groups and discuss the apology. Afterwards, they all spoke of their own interpretations and what it meant. Haskell student Lolita Ceja from the Yakima Nation, was overwhelmed by the words,
“There is so much we went through, that we are going through, I just hope this can help increase the education of Native Americans, maybe this is the direction it will go.”
Charles used the analogy of "our land being a grandmother's home, that we invited our guests into and they took over the house, they pushed and locked grandma in a bedroom without caring for her."
Participants in the exercise added, it was more that "grandmother's house had been destroyed and rebuilt to fit their needs and we were kicked out."
The end of the apology includes a disclaimer that:
"(b) Disclaimer - Nothing in this section:
(1) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or
(2) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States."
Charles stated that this part "sucks the life out of the apology". While the apology cannot be rewritten the discussion can still be held and that is what Charles is hoping will happen for the third anniversary.For more information on the event visit wirelesshogan.com
posted October 10, 2012 8:59 am edt