Chairman Rambler, Congressman Grijalva, Wendsler Nosie, and all my relatives standing here today. Hello my Name is Mark Charles. My mother is American of Dutch heritage and my father is Navajo.
On December 19, 2014 House Resolution 3979, the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law. Buried on page 442 is section 3003 which gives away sacred Apache lands to the Resolution Copper mining company.
The Apache people have worked successfully for years to keep these lands off limits to mining companies. But a last minute rider buried in this bill by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake changed that.
It is at desperate times like these that I find it beneficial to remind myself of some of the historic words found in our Nation's Declaration of Independence. Please allow me to read them.
"...He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages..."
Yes, I am reading the correct Declaration and no I am not mis-quoting. 30 lines below the statement "All men are created equal", the Declaration of Independence refers to natives as "merciless Indian Savages."
This past month our country has been grappling with the systemic racism represented by the Confederate flag, but we forget that the racism was not isolated to the Confederate States, it goes right down to the very foundations of this nation. (*)
And so I am deeply grateful to be here with you today, helping remind our members of congress, our nation, and even the world...
Technically we are not even Indians (you can check your history books, Columbus was lost and had no clue where he was).
And we are definitely not savages.
We are the indigenous people of this land and we deserve to be treated with respect.
As a Navajo man and a member of MoveOn, I am honored to present this petition, signed by more than 36K MoveOn members from across the country. Please contact your congressional representative and ask them to support House Resolution 2811, Congressman Grijalva bill returning the sacred lands known as Oak Flat back to the Apache people.
* This paragraph was included in my prepared remarks but accidentally omitted in my spoken remarks.