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.
We started with a moment of silence to remember and honor all those affected by the senseless shooting in Connecticut.
Then Daniel Smiley (Navajo) opened our time together with a traditional Navajo prayer song. http://youtu.be/61Z3xeWI34M?t=3m4s
I then gave an introduction to our time together. That was followed by several Native Americans reading sections of H.R. 3326, the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.
Terry Wildman (Ojibwe)
|Susie Silversmith (Navajo)|
|David Charles (Navajo)|
|Donnie Begay (Navajo)|
|Richard Silversmith (Navajo)|
Given the context, the appropriations sections of H.R. 3326 sounded almost nonsensical. But there was something very deep and meaningful about hearing them being read by Native Americans. To me it sounded almost like a silent form of protest. We were not pointing fingers, nor were we calling out our leaders by name, we were just highlighting the inappropriateness of the context and delivery of their apology.
We read the sections of H.R. 3326 that directly proceeded Section 8113 (apology to native peoples of the united states). Then, without pause or introduction, we proceeded directly into the reading of the apology.
|I read it first in English|
Next, Jim Northrup read the apology in Ojibwe.
|Then Ben Stoner read the apology in Navajo.|
After the readings of the apology translations were complete my son, David Charles, played a flute song
and then Daniel Smiley sang another prayer in Navajo.
I then came forward and invited our nation into a Conversation for Reconciliation.
Then Steve Prince shared about the artwork he drew.
Then Elmer Yazzie share about his painting.
And then we opened the mic for anyone who wanted to join the conversation.
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.