Truth Be Told

I am currently writing a book about the Doctrine of Discovery along with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah. There is a crowdfunding campaign to support the writing process with reward levels that includes SIGNED COPIES of the book once it is released! Click here for more information.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Historically Accurate Abraham Lincoln

I've always wondered why Black History month is commemorated in February. So this year I decided to look it up, and learned that one of the reasons is because February is the month which contains the birthdays of both Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.

Choosing February as Black History Month because of Frederick Douglass makes sense. "He was a prominent American abolitionist, author and orator. Born a slave, Douglass escaped at age 20 and went on to become a world-renowned anti-slavery activist." (History)

But choosing to put Black History Month in February because of Abraham Lincoln? That makes no sense at all. At least not when you understand the historically accurate Abraham Lincoln. You see, there are two Abraham Lincolns. The historically accurate Abraham Lincoln and the mythological Abraham Lincoln. Most Americans know only the mythological Abraham Lincoln and are clueless as to his actual history, writings, speeches and military exploits as Commander in Chief of the Unites States armed forces.

The mythological Abraham Lincoln is held up by both Democrats and Republicans alike. He is a beacon of freedom and a champion of racial equality. In fact, in the spring of 2016, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) referenced the legacy of Abraham Lincoln when he publicly rebuked GOP Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump for not distancing himself from the political endorsement of David Duke, a well-known KKK member. He said:
"If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people's prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln. We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental. And if someone wants to be our nominee, they must understand this." (Twitter)
Speaker Ryan was, of course, referencing the Abraham Lincoln most everyone knows and loves, the mythological Abraham Lincoln. I however, would like to invite you to meet the historically accurate Abraham Lincoln.

In the fall of 1858, Abraham Lincoln was in a brutal campaign for the US Senate. He was running against Judge Stephen Douglas, as well as against the perception that he was in favor of freeing the slaves. So, in the first debate, towards the beginning of his remarks, he sought to assure the white voters of where he actually stood in regard to slavery and racial equality:
"I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position."
- Abraham Lincoln (First Lincoln Douglas Debate - August 21, 1858 - Ottawa, Illinois)
Several weeks later, during his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln reiterated his stance on both slavery and race, almost verbatim:
"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
- Abraham Lincoln (Fourth Lincoln Douglas Debate - September 18, 1858 - Charleston, Illinois)
In 1861, during his inauguration speech, President Lincoln felt the need to once again reminded the nation as to where he stood on race and slavery. He reiterated his intention to not free the slaves in states where it already existed, and in regards to his thoughts on race, he referenced the country back to his speeches in the Douglas debates:
"Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that--I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."(1861 - Inaugural Address)
On August 19, 1862, Horace Greeley, the Editor of the New York Tribune wrote a scathing Op-Ed calling for the immediate emancipation of the slaves. President Lincoln had already written the Emancipation Proclamation but was not yet ready to issue it. He first wanted to assure the slave-owning states of the north (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware) of his true intentions and beliefs, so he responded to Greeley's Op-Ed with a letter which stated:
"If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."
It is the latter half of this quote (italicized) that is engraved on a marble plaque which today hangs in the museum at the base of the Lincoln Memorial. It boldly declares President Abraham Lincoln’s belief that black lives did not matter.

1862 was a turbulent year for our country. It was the first full year of the Civil War, but that was not the only fighting taking place. In Minnesota, the US Government had recently signed a treaty with the Dakota Sioux nation, and in the fall of 1862, after the United States failed to meet its treaty obligations with the Dakota people, several Dakota warriors raided an American settlement, killed some of the settlers and stole food. This began a short period of bloody conflict between some of the Dakota people, white settlers, and the U.S. Military. After little more than a month, several hundred of the Dakota warriors surrendered and the rest fled north to what is now Canada. Those who surrendered were quickly tried in military tribunals, and 303 of them were condemned to death.
"The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought with a sovereign nation, and that the men who surrendered were entitled to treatment in accordance with that status."(Carol Chomsky)
Because these were military trials, the executions had to be ordered by the President. 303 deaths seemed too genocidal for President Lincoln. But he didn't order retrials, even though it has been argued that the trials which took place were a legal sham. Instead he simply modified the criteria of which charges warranted a death sentence. Under his new criteria, only two of the Dakota warriors were sentenced to die. That small number seemed too lenient, and President Lincoln was concerned about an uprising by his white American settlers in that area. So, for a second time, instead of ordering retrials, he changed the criteria of what warranted a death sentence.

Ultimately, 39 Dakota men were sentenced to die. And on December 26, 1862, by order of President Lincoln, and with nearly 4,000 white American settlers looking on, the largest mass execution in the history of the United States took place, making it abundantly clear that, not only did Abraham Lincoln not believe that Black Lives Mattered, but he did not believe that Native Lives Mattered either.

Less than a week later, on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. But, if you look closely, this proclamation did not free all the slaves. The wording of the Emancipation Proclamation was extremely specific, and limited the locations from which slaves were to be freed:
"Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued."
The Emancipation Proclamation exempted many areas and counties throughout the southern slave-owning states, and never even mentioned freeing slaves from the northern states where slavery was legal (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware). These states had not seceded from the Union and therefore were exempted by Lincoln from the Proclamation. Some have argued that because President Lincoln was using his wartime powers as commander-in-chief to make the proclamation, it was legally necessary to limit the jurisdiction of the proclamation to states and counties that were actively fighting against the Union.  However, taken in the context of President Lincoln’s response to Horace Greeley, the limited implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation remained true to President Lincoln’s belief that Black Lives did not Matter. He fulfilled his commitment to the slave owners in Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware that if he could save the Union “by freeing some and leaving others alone” he would do that.

In the 1860s President Lincoln also sought to put an end to the Indian wars being fought in the Southwest against the Navajo and the Pueblos. The military offensive against our tribes by the US Army intensified with the start of the Civil War in 1861 and steadily increased thereafter. In the fall of 1863, General Carleton of the US Army, the army of which Abraham Lincoln was the commander in chief, gave the following order to US Army Officer, Kit Carson, who had been brought into the Indian War Campaigns for the express purpose of removing the Navajo and Pueblo people to Brosque Redondo.
"Henceforth every Navajo male is to be killed or taken prisoner on sight....Say to them 'Go to the Brosque Redondo or we will pursue and destroy you....We will not make peace with you on any other terms. This war shall be pursued until you cease to exist or move. There can be no other talk on the subject.'" (Locke, "The Book of the Navajo", Mankind Publishing, pg. 356)
The strength and numbers of the Navajo people had already been depleted. Most of our crops were burned and our livestock killed. Raymond Friday Locke, once again, in his book titled "The Book of the Navajo" records the next step of the operation:
"with the coming of the first snows, Carson put his second plan of operation into action. He knew that, even with the loss of most of their livestock and crops, the Navajo people could still survive the winter on game and wild seeds and plants – but not if they were constantly kept on the move. Again breaking his command up into small patrols, he sent them out to crisscross Dinehtah (the traditional lands of the Navajo people) until the Navajos were broken up into small family units and scattered. They could never remain in one place for more than a few days at a time, camped in mountain crevices or caves without sufficient food, shelter or clothing…By the middle of December most of the weak and aged had died. There is hardly a Navajo family that cannot remember tales of an aged grandfather, a pregnant mother or a lame child that had to be left behind when the camp had to be quickly deserted. The patrols were not interested in taking captives; it was too much trouble to transport them back to the forts. Any Navajo they saw was shot on sight. Mothers were sometimes forced to suffocate their hungry crying babies to keep their families from being discovered and butchered by an army patrol or taken captive by the slave raiders.”
(Locke, "The Book of the Navajo", Mankind Publishing, pg. 358)
Ultimately over 8,000 Navajo people were rounded up by President Lincoln’s army, and marched from Fort Wingate to Bosque Redondo in what is known as "The Long Walk."

About that same time (1864), in Colorado, the US Army, still under their Commander in Chief Abraham Lincoln, committed the Massacre at Sand Creek:
"On November 29, 1864, approximately 675 United States soldiers under the command of Colonel John Chivington killed more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers, mostly elderly men, women, and children, approximately 180 miles southeast of Denver near Eads, Colorado.  Despite assurance from American negotiators that they would be safe, and despite Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle raising both a United States flag and a white flag as symbols of peace, Colonel Chivington ordered his troops to take no prisoners and to pillage and set the village ablaze, violently forcing the ambushed and outnumbered Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers to flee on foot. Colonel Chivington and his troops paraded mutilated body parts of men, women, and children in downtown Denver, Colorado, in celebration of the massacre." (Colorado Senate Joint Resolution 14-030)
In 1865, the mythological President Lincoln was given credit for abolishing slavery. But that’s because most people have never actually read the text of the 13th Amendment. Here is what it says:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
To this day, slavery in the United States is completely legal. The 13th Amendment did not abolish it, it merely codified slavery and put it under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system. And I am sure that the historically accurate Abraham Lincoln would be delighted to learn that, 153 years later, the United States of America now has nearly twice as many more black males over the age of 18 in prison, on parole and on probation, than were enslaved in 1850.

As a Navajo man, I find many of the holidays celebrated by the United States of America lamentable. Every Fourth of July we celebrate a Declaration of Independence that refers to Natives as “merciless Indian savages.” Columbus Day celebrates a "discovery" of lands that were already inhabited. On Thanksgiving we celebrate a mythological potluck between natives and settlers (that never happened). But President’s Day. The fact that as a nation we celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday. and have white washed the exploits of a racist, genocidal, ethnic-cleansing president like Abraham Lincoln is morally, ethically, politically and socially reprehensible.

Mark Charles
(Navajo)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Chief Wahoo: A Mascot for the Lie of White Supremacy

On Monday, the Cleveland Indians released a statement that they will remove the logo of Chief Wahoo from their on-field uniforms beginning with the 2019 season. Many people on social media congratulated Major League Baseball for its commitment to inclusivity and diversity and thanked the owner of the Cleveland Indians for making this change. I do not share in those sentiments and here is why.
  Chief Wahoo thru the years  

Owner Paul Dolan only committed to remove Chief Wahoo after the 2018 season has completed.

The nation was rightfully outraged that Michigan State University and US Gymnastics ignored, for years, the voices of women and underage girls who reported that Larry Nassar had been touching them inappropriately during his examinations and treatments.  The pubic was outraged that many studios, friends, co-workers and executives were complicit, through their silence, in the long pattern of abuse and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein. Sexual assault is unacceptable. Period. And those who bury it, ignore it, and turn the other way are also complicit in it.

When their actions came to light, Larry Nassar and Harvey Weinstein were not merely asked to phase out their behavior, nor were they simply told to promise to cease their behavior at a later, more convenient date. No, they were immediately removed from their positions, shunned by the public, and confronted by those they abused.

White America has a long-standing history of violence and racism against native peoples. Discovery, stolen lands, broken treaties, ethnic cleansing, genocide, boarding schools, massacres, sexual assault, mass incarceration, reservations, #DAPL, and the list goes on, and on, and on.  The problem is much deeper than a mere logo or a simple mascot.  Native mascots in sports are dehumanizing caricatures rooted in our nation’s racist history, mascots for the lie of white supremacy.

Looked at from this perspective, the statements put out by Commissioner Manfred and owner Paul Dolan border on the absurd.
Commissioner Manfred: "During our constructive conversations, Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team. Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course."

Paul Dolan: “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”
If you still don’t see it, try reading the statements again, this time with the implicit racial bias made explicit.
Commissioner Manfred: "During our constructive conversations, Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the white supremacist logo and its place in the history of the team. Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the white supremacist logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course."

Paul Dolan: “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo white supremacy, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the white supremacist logo from our uniforms in 2019.
What is true for sexual assault is also true for racism and the lie of white supremacy. It is NEVER acceptable. Period. Not today. Not yesterday. Not 10 years ago. Not even 100 years ago. Racism and the lie of white supremacy are abhorrent whenever and wherever they exist.

I do not congratulate Major League Baseball, nor do I thank the Cleveland Indians for committing to not remove Chief Wahoo from their on-field uniforms until 2019. I lament that it took them this long to commit to anything, and I call on owner Paul Dolan and Commissioner Manfred to change the team name and remove the racist caricature immediately, beginning with the 2018 season. Anything less communicates that racism and the lie of white supremacy are socially acceptable. And they are not.

Mark Charles
(Navajo)

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Abhorrent Lie of White Supremacy

To be clear, President Trump's vulgar and racist comments on Thursday regarding immigrants from the continent of Africa were intended to appeal to his political base and rooted in the abhorrent lie of white supremacy.  After hearing reports of President Trumps remarks I asked my two oldest children to read the following excerpt of a speech by another US President who also held and articulated white supremacist views.  I did this because I wanted them to understand the pervasiveness of white supremacy and just how deeply it is rooted in American history.
"While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
- Abraham Lincoln (Fourth Lincoln Douglas Debate - September 18, 1858 - Charleston, Illinois)
Now, I know what many may be thinking. This is unfair, you are taking an excerpt from a speech early in Lincoln’s political life, 5 years before he issued the emancipation proclamation and six years before he gave the Gettysburg address. Certainly, Abraham Lincoln's beliefs in racial equality must have grown and changed over the course of his political career.

Did they?

In 1864, near the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wrote what is probably the shortest and most famous political speech in American history, the Gettysburg Address. At 272 words, beginning with a reference to the Declaration of Independence and concluding with the often-quoted line "...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Many believe this speech to be the perfect capstone to his life and political career.

But we must note that, like the inclusive language used by the authors of the Declaration of Independence ("All men") and the US Constitution, ("We the people"), Lincoln does not in the immediate context of his words, define who he is including when he refers to "All men" and "people". In the Declaration of Independence, 30 lines after the statement "All men are created equal", the authors refer to native tribes as "merciless Indian savages." Making it very clear that they had a very narrow definition of who was actually human. And Article I Section II of the US Constitution, the section that defines who is included in the designation "We the people". Article I, Section II never mentions women, it specifically excludes Indians and it counts African slaves as 3/5th human. This leaves only white, land-owning men.

If you read the Emancipation Proclamation you will note that President Lincoln was incredibly specific as to exactly where he was freeing the slaves:
"Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued."
The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the slave owning border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. These states had not seceded from the Union and therefore were exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation.

Some will argue that because President Lincoln was using his wartime powers as commander-in-chief to make the proclamation, it was legally necessary to limit the proclamation to states and counties that were actively fighting against the Union.  However, President Lincoln himself provides detailed insight into his thinking regarding his reasoning for freeing the slaves just a few months prior.

On August 19, 1862, Horace Greeley, the Editor of the New York Tribune wrote a scathing Op-Ed calling for the immediate emancipation of the slaves. President Lincoln had already written the Emancipation Proclamation but was not yet ready to issue it. He first wanted to reassure the slave-owning states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware of his values, so he responded to Greeley's Op-Ed with a letter which stated:
"If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that." 
This quote is engraved on a marble plaque that hangs in the museum at the base of the Lincoln memorial. Boldly announcing to everyone who visits the museum that President Abraham Lincoln did not believe that black lives matter.

On top of that, just a few weeks before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in the history of the United States.

In the fall of 1862, after the United States failed to meet its treaty obligations with the Dakota people, several Dakota warriors raided an American settlement, killed some of the settlers and stole some food. This began a period of bloody conflict between some of the Dakota people, the settlers, and the US Military. After more than a month, several hundred of the Dakota warriors surrendered and the rest fled north to what is now Canada. Those who surrendered were quickly tried in military tribunals, and 303 of them were condemned to death.
"The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought with a sovereign nation and that the men who surrendered were entitled to treatment in accordance with that status." (Carol Chomsky)
Because these were military trials, the executions had to be ordered by President Abraham Lincoln.

Three hundred and three deaths seemed too genocidal for President Lincoln. But he didn't order retrials, even though it has been argued that the trials which took place were a legal sham. Instead he simply modified the criteria of what charges warranted a death sentence. Under his new criteria, only two of the Dakota warriors were sentenced to die. That small number seemed too lenient, and President Lincoln was concerned about an uprising by his white American settlers in that area. So, for a second time, instead of ordering retrials, he changed the criteria of what warranted a death sentence.

Ultimately, 39 Dakota men were sentenced to die. And on December 26, 1862, by order of President Lincoln, and with nearly 4,000 white American settlers looking on, the largest mass execution in the history of the United States took place. The hanging of the Dakota 38.

Clearly, not only did President Lincoln not believe black lives mattered, but he also did not believe native lives mattered.

So how about his inauguration? The election of Abraham Lincoln as President, and his inauguration into office was what spurred several of the southern states to secede from the Union. Surely, he must have stated something in his address that made clear his belief in the value of "all men" and his inclusion of people of color in his definition of humanity.
"Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that--I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." (1861 - Inaugural Address)
And, President Lincoln’s direct quote of a previous speech brings us back to yet another example of what is obviously a deeply held, and life long, belief in the lie of white supremacy:
"Now, gentlemen, I don't want to read at any greater length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. [Laughter.] I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position."
- Abraham Lincoln (First Lincoln Douglas Debate - August 21, 1858 - Ottawa, Illinois)
After President Trump made his vulgar and racist statement regarding immigrants from Africa, a statement that was rooted in his belief in the abhorrent lie of white supremacy, I had my two oldest children read the above speech by another US Politician who deeply believed the same abhorrent lie. Throughout his political career, President Abraham Lincoln was a white supremacist. I asked my children read his speech because I did not want them to believe that Donald Trump is the sole root of the problem. President Trump is obviously the most explicit and recent manifestation of the problem. But the abhorrent lie of white supremacy runs much deeper and is far more pervasive than most anyone is willing to admit.

I understand why so many white politicians hold up Abraham Lincoln as their political hero regarding matters of race. President Lincoln built and left a legacy that is the envy of many politicians. He won the support and admiration of generations of people of color, all the while blatantly, and repeatedly, reassuring his white base of the abhorrent lie that they were indeed the superior race.

Whether it comes from the vulgar mouth of Donald J. Trump or through the eloquent articulation of Abraham Lincoln, I lament, I weep, I decry, I denounce the pervasive and abhorrent lie of white supremacy.

Mark Charles
(Navajo)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Massacre at Wounded Knee and 18 Medals of Dishonor

On Friday December 29, I came across a news article regarding Oskar Groening. Oskar was an accountant who served in the SS in Nazi Germany at Auschwitz, an extermination camp used in the genocide of Jewish people during World War II. In 2015, at the age of 93, he was found guilty of accessory to 300,000 murders for his role in providing administrative support at Auschwitz. He appealed his sentence because of both his age at the time of sentencing and, the fact that his activities came to light due to his decision to speak publicly about his service at Auschwitz in an effort to counteract and silence holocaust deniers. But, on December 29, 2017, several news agencies reported that his appeal had been denied and he would serve his 4-year jail sentence.

This story stood out to me because December 29th is also the day that approximately 300 Sioux men, women and children were slaughtered by the US Army in 1890. The event is known as the Massacre at Wounded Knee. Here is a short description of the massacre:
"From the heights above, the army's Hotchkiss guns raked the Indian teepees with grapeshot. Clouds of gun smoke filled the air as men, women and children scrambled for their lives. Many ran for a ravine next to the camp only to be cut down in a withering cross fire. When the smoke cleared and the shooting stopped, approximately 300 Sioux were dead, Big Foot among them. Twenty-five soldiers lost their lives." (Eyewitness to History)
A few items should be noted about this massacre. First the US Army was using Hotchkiss guns, and some accounts report that a total of four Hotchkiss rapid-fire artillery guns were utilized at Wounded Knee. "The 1-pounder revolving Hotchkiss cannon had five 37 mm barrels, and was capable of firing 68 rounds per minute with an accuracy range of 2,000 yards. Each feed magazine held ten rounds and weighed approximately 18 pounds (Wikipedia)." Comparing their weapons to this, the Sioux never stood a chance.

Second, it was recorded that "many [Sioux] ran for a ravine next to the camp only to be cut down in a withering cross fire."

Most people are not aware of this, but the United States awarded 24 Medals of Honor to US soldiers for their actions throughout the Sioux Campaign of 1890, and 18 of those medals were given specifically to soldiers who participated in the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

The US Army website contains a section detailing the Medals of Honor that have been awarded throughout our country’s history, listed by war and conflict. Between 1839 and 1898, it records that a total of 425 Medals of Honor were awarded to US Soldiers who fought in the ‘Indian War Campaigns’ (but that unfortunate fact is the subject for another article at a later date). The site also records that 3 of the Medals of Honor from Wounded Knee were awarded for the following reasons:
"While the Indians were concealed in a ravine, assisted men on the skirmish line, directing their fire, etc., and using every effort to dislodge the enemy."

"Voluntarily led a party into a ravine to dislodge Sioux Indians concealed therein. He was wounded during this action."

"While engaged with Indians concealed in a ravine, he assisted the men on the skirmish line, directed their fire, encouraged them by example, and used every effort to dislodge the enemy."
So, let’s review. On December 29, 1890, the US Army surrounded an encampment of Sioux men, women and children. When peace talks broke down, the soldiers opened fire with their full artillery, which included up to 4 Hotchkiss guns. Many of the Sioux ran for cover in a nearby ravine. And 3 US soldiers were awarded Medals of Honor for directing fire into, and dislodging the Sioux out of, the ravine, where they could be more easily exterminated by the soldiers above it.

The United States and Germany have similar histories of white supremacy and racially motivated genocide. But while Germany is working hard to deal with their shameful history of ethnic cleansing, the US has chosen to publicly honor its.

On December 29, 2017 most of the major US news agencies, including ABC, NBC, CBS, USA Today, and Fox News, reported on Oskar Groening losing his appeal in the German Courts. A search, during the same news cycle, returned almost no references, on mainstream media, to the 127th Anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

The United States of America needs a national dialogue on race, gender and class. A conversation on par with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that took place in South Africa, Rwanda and Canada. I'm calling it Truth and Conciliation, and the goal is 2021.

Because until we have such a dialogue, we will continue to be a nation that not only buries its incredibly violent and unjust history, but also ignorantly and brazenly honors our war crimes such as the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

Mark Charles
(Navajo)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Hanging of the Dakota 38 and the Troubling Legacy of Abraham Lincoln

In the museum located at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, there is a plaque hanging on the wall which states:
"I would save the Union. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not to save or destroy slavery.  If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."
I have stood near this plaque and watched lines of people pass by. Most simply read it and move on. Almost no one pauses or even raises an eyebrow. But when I stop them and point out that this plaque is literally stating that according to Abraham Lincoln "Black Lives Don't Matter," they look at me, turn around, read the plaque again, stare at it in disbelief, shake their heads, and then pull out their cameras to take a picture.

I then educate them on even more troubling history regarding our 16th President.

On December 26, 1862, the largest mass execution in the history of the United States, the hanging of the Dakota 38, took place, by the order of President Abraham Lincoln.

In the fall of 1862, after the United States failed to meet its treaty obligations with the Dakota people, several Dakota warriors raided an American settlement, killed 5 settlers and stole some food. This began a period of bloody conflict between some of the Dakota people, the settlers, and the US Military. After more than a month, several hundred of the Dakota warriors surrendered and the rest fled north to what is now Canada. Those who surrendered were quickly tried in military tribunals, and 303 of them were condemned to death.
"The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought with a sovereign nation and that the men who surrendered were entitled to treatment in accordance with that status." (Carol Chomsky)
Because these were military trials, the executions had to be ordered by President Abraham Lincoln.

Three hundred and three deaths seemed too genocidal for President Lincoln. But he didn't order retrials, even though it has been argued that the trials which took place were a legal sham. Instead he simply modified the criteria of what charges warranted a death sentence. Under his new criteria, only 2 of the Dakota warriors were sentenced to die. That small number seemed too lenient, and President Lincoln was concerned about an uprising by his white American settlers in that area. So for a second time, instead of ordering retrials, he merely changed the criteria of what warranted a death sentence.

Ultimately, 39 Dakota men were sentenced to die. And on December 26, 1862, by order of President Lincoln, and with nearly 4,000 white American settlers looking on, the largest mass execution in the history of the United States took place. The hanging of the Dakota 38.

Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States during an incredibly tumultuous time. Disappearing were the days when explicit forms of racism, such as the enslavement of African people and the ethnic cleansing of Native people, were socially acceptable. The country was not necessarily growing a conscience, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to continually justify the actions of 'modern' American society that were so blatantly evil and racist.

And President Lincoln was a product of his time. He did not free the slaves because he believed Black Lives Mattered. Nor did he change the criteria of what warranted a death sentence for the Dakota warriors because he believed Native Lives Mattered. As the quote hanging at the Lincoln Memorial states, he was merely trying to save the Union, an institution with foundations that were written specifically to protect white, land-owning men.

And when you are the leader of a nation whose Declaration of Independence refers to natives as "merciless Indian savages"… When you are the government official constitutionally responsible for appointing judges to a Supreme Court that uses the dehumanizing Doctrine of Discovery as a legal precedent for land titles… When you are the Commander and Chief of a military that (ultimately) awards 425 Congressional Medals of Honor for the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Native peoples…  When you are the democratically elected President of a white male supremacist Union whose Constitution specifically excludes natives, and women, and counts Africans as 3/5th human… Then saving that Union comes at a cost…for people of color.

So you free the slaves but still tell your base that black lives don't matter.

You reduce a mass execution from 303 to 38 but still trample the human rights of native peoples, and thus keep clear the path for your settlers and your nation to complete its self-proclaimed Manifest Destiny.

The challenge we face as a country is that we do not understand the fundamental flaws with our foundations. We think our challenges arise from corrupt individuals who we believe trample our values, like Andrew Jackson. And we think we are justified by other individuals who we believe hold true to the values of our foundations, like Abraham Lincoln.

But the problem is not the individual, the problem is our foundations.

To this day the United States Constitution contains 51 gender specific male pronouns regarding who can run for office, who can hold office and even who is entitled to all privileges and immunities of US citizenship. To this day, we have never completely abolished slavery (the 13th Amendment merely redefines and codifies slavery under the jurisdiction of our criminal justice system). And as recently at 2005 the United States Supreme Court referenced the Doctrine of Discovery in regards to a legal question of Native American land rights.

The Unites States of America is not systemically racist and sexist in spite of our foundations. The United States of America is systemically sexist and racist because of our foundations.

We need a national dialogue on race, gender and class. A conversation on par with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that took place in South Africa, Rwanda and Canada. I'm calling it Truth and Conciliation, and the goal is 2021.

Because until we have such a dialogue, we will continue to be a nation that buries its troubling history, like the hanging of the Dakota 38. And we will continue to be a people that holds as heroes Presidents who literally stated, "Black Lives Don't Matter."

Mark Charles
(Navajo)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

December Nineteenth - An Annual Reminder

Painting by Navajo Artist - Elmer Yazzie
This past Tuesday I tried to have a normal day. I knew it was December 19. I knew that day was the eighth anniversary of House Resolution 3326.

H.R. 3326 is the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. It was introduced by Senator Sam Brownback (Republican), passed by the US Congress and signed by President Barack Obama (Democrat) on December 19, 2009. It is a 67-page bill laying out the appropriations for the DoD for 2010.

However, unbeknownst to most people, on page 45 is sub-section 8113 which is titled "Apology to Native Peoples of the United States."

What follows is a 7-bullet point apology. This apology mentions no specific tribe, no specific treaty and no specific injustice. It basically says, "you had some nice land, our citizens didn't take it very politely. Let's just call it all of our land, and steward it together." It then ends with a disclaimer stating that nothing contained in this section is legally binding.

To date, this apology has not been announced, read or publicized by the White House or by Congress.

I learned about this apology by accident on December 19, 2011 and was appalled. How could our nation, and our leaders, bury something like this in a Department of Defense Appropriations Bill???

That day, I committed to do whatever I could to publicize this apology. And on December 19, 2012 I had the privilege of hosting a gathering of approximately 150 friends, partners and fellow citizens. We stood in front of the US Capitol and publicly read this apology.

We read several pages of the sections before the apology (to highlight how inappropriate it was to place this apology in an Defense Appropriations bill).

Jim Northrup reading the apology in Ojibwe
We had the apology translated into the languages of Navajo and Ojibwe. This was to model for Congress and the White House, that when you apologize, you not only do it publicly, but you also make EVERY effort to have the apology as accessible and understandable to the offended party as possible.

We then gave people in the audience an opportunity to react and respond to the apology. Because that's what you do when you apologize. You let the offended party speak.

I respect President Obama and Governor Brownback. Both men have gone far beyond their predecessors in reaching out to native peoples. And I had hoped and prayed, up until the last moment, that one of them would step forward to take ownership of this apology. I invited them both to attend.

But unfortunately, they both declined.

So, in their absence, after the apology was read, and the people had a chance to respond, I stepped forward, took the microphone, and encouraged our native leaders, our communities, and our people to not accept this apology.

I was not trying to be divisive, nor was I trying to shame these leaders or our nation. But I did have an understanding of the situation and an appreciation for who our audience actually was.

This event was not about me, nor was it about President Obama, Governor Brownback, or the 111th Congress. This event was about the historic relationship between indigenous peoples and our colonizers throughout the world.

That morning, in front of the US Capitol, December 19, 2012, our audience was not just the 150 people standing in front of us, nor even the people watching online. That morning our audience was the entire globe. Our audience was history.

The United States of America is a leader in this world; its words are scrutinized, and its example followed.

If Native Americans were to accept this apology, in the vague, politicized, disrespectful, and self-protecting way it was given, then we would be condoning our government’s actions and making a model of their methods. We would be communicating to indigenous peoples everywhere that we are still subservient to our colonizers, that we are not their equals, and that we should just be grateful for whatever scraps they bother to throw our way.

I could not let that message get perpetuated. I have too much respect for myself, for my elders, for my country, and even for our elected officials. So, I took a stand, and encouraged our Native peoples to not accept this apology. Not out of anger, bitterness, or resentment, but out of respect. Native peoples deserve better and our country can do better.

...

It is now 8 years since this apology was given, and 5 years since we publicly read it in front of the US Capitol. But not much has changed.

President Obama left office without ever publicizing it.

And President Trump...well, you know...his campaign rhetoric, environmental policies, blatant racism and sexism, and his unabashed love for Andrew Jackson, all speak for themselves.

To this day, most Americans do not know about this apology. And our nation still has not dealt with its history.

December 19th is no longer just a normal day. It is an annual reminder. A reminder to not get stuck in anger or resentment. A reminder to press on.

A reminder that there is much work to be done.

Mark Charles
(Navajo)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Lamenting the Lost Hope of Advent


Advent is the season of hope, the season of waiting for the coming of Christ. As Christians we believe that our hope is found in Christ, and that the church, the body of Christ, is God’s chosen instrument of revelation.

But how do you offer hope when the Church itself is the oppressor?  When the Church has committed countless violations in the name of Jesus?


About 18 months ago I had the honor of visiting an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) elder and dear friend. He was a Vietnam Veteran, an accomplished writer, and a boarding school survivor. Boarding schools were a forced assimilation tactic employed by the US Government and American Churches in their ongoing efforts to “kill the Indian to save the man.” My friend had been diagnosed with cancer and had only a few months to live. He and his wife decided that his limited days would be spent cherishing every moment and relationship. After a long journey, I arrived at his house to spend a few hours with him. In his weakened state he did not have the energy for prolonged visits, and most of our time was spent sitting on his porch, with me listening to his stories.

Over our years of friendship, I heard a trickle of his stories, but that afternoon the dam broke, and his stories came flooding out. And they were gut wrenching. Stories about how he "converted" to Christianity in the boarding school, not because he liked Jesus but because he learned that students who said, "the prayer" were given bigger portions at dinner. Stories about how the school used cigarettes to manipulate the behavior of the young native students. Stories about the suicide attempts of family members, the strict punishments by the boarding school administrators, and, worst of all, the sex education he received, in the form of statutory rape, from one of his teachers at this church-run boarding school.

I had heard stories like his before from second and third-hand sources. I had read stories like his before, of people I did not know. But that afternoon, the firsthand stories of my friend shook me.  He was not angry, nor was he bitter. But he was honest. Brutally honest. And there were no words. There was nothing I could say. He was trying to make peace with his past and was deeply wrestling with his pending death. And there was nothing I could say. He knew I was a Christian, but he was not looking for Christ. Nor did I know how to offer Christ. So, we sat there. I listened. I hugged him. And we said our good byes.  He died a few months later.

How do you offer hope when the Church itself is the oppressor? When the Church has committed unspeakable violations in the name of Jesus?

I don’t know, but I believe it begins with lament. And this Advent Season I invite the Church to join me.


All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Isaiah 64:6

Mark Charles
(Navajo)

This reflection was first published on "Keep Watch with Me - A Daily Advent Reader for Peacemakers."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Honor of the Navajo Code Talkers and the Shame of President Donald J. Trump

I am ashamed of President Donald J. Trump.


On Monday, November 27, at an event honoring the Navajo Code Talkers, President Trump took the name of a well-respected and loved historic figure from the Native community, Pocahontas, and used it as a racial slur in his ongoing and adolescent attacks on U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Let me repeat that, in a speech meant to honor an incredible group of men, who not only used their sacred language to help the United States of America win a war, but many of whom are also boarding school survivors, who as young children endured the pain of having the US Government literally attempt to beat their language out of them in an effort to "kill the Indian to save the man." These men endured those beatings. They held on to their language. And less than a decade later they used that language to save the United States of America. And President Trump could not muster the self-control to hold his tongue long enough to honor their service.

On top of that, it is well a known fact that Donald Trump considers Andrew Jackson to be one of his heroes. On March 15, 2017, President Trump visited the Hermitage and, in honor of Jacksons 250th birthday, laid a wreath at his tomb. In his speech commemorating the occasion, President Trump referred to our seventh President as "the very great Andrew Jackson...[who] was one of our great Presidents." And he concluded his speech by thanking Andrew Jackson for his service and committing to build on his legacy. 

But Andrew Jackson was a slave owner and his legacy as President was the ethnic cleansing and removal of American Indians.  President Jackson pushed for and signed the Indian Removal Act. This was the act which allowed the US Army, in practice, to forcibly remove native tribes from lands in the east to empty lands further in the west. This resulted in the Trail of Tears for the Choctaw, the Chickasaw and the Cherokee, as well as the Long Walk for the Navajo and the Pueblo. All told, about a dozen tribes experienced forced relocation due to the Indian Removal Act and tens of thousands of native people died as a direct result of this Act. At the Hermitage, President Trump attempted to dismiss this horrific history by calling Andrew Jackson “a product of his time.” That explanation may work to excuse an elderly grandparent who makes a racially insensitive remark at a dinner party. But it does not excuse a US President who knowingly and intentionally enacted a policy of removal and ethnic cleansing against an entire race of people.

And if you look at the picture of President Trump standing with the Navajo Code Talkers in the Oval Office, you can see very clearly in the background a portrait of Andrew Jackson.

I am ashamed of President Donald J. Trump.

The Long Walk occurred in the early 1860s. That is a mere 60 to 70 years before these Code Talkers were born. It was their grandparents whose crops, livestock and homes the US army destroyed as they rounded up the Navajo people to forcibly march us to Fort Sumner. It was their great-grandparents who the soldiers shot along the way. It was their elders who died of exhaustion, exposure, malnutrition and other unspeakable war crimes as the United States of America worked tirelessly to complete its self-proclaimed manifest destiny. The amount of pain, suffering, torture and dehumanization that the men who stood before President Trump endured, not for their country, but by their country, is beyond imagination.

And President Donald J. Trump could not hold his tongue. He could not find the courtesy to conduct the ceremony in a different location beyond the genocidal gaze of the seventh President of the United States. And he could not control his incessant need to keep the spotlight on himself, no matter what the context, or who his audience.

President Trump’s words and actions clearly demonstrated that he does not honor the immense sacrifice and incredible service of the Navajo Code Talkers.

I am not primarily angry, nor am I foremost disappointed, for both of those emotions would require me to have higher expectations of President Trump. No, I am ashamed. Ashamed that the United States of America has a President who conducts himself as a man who has no honor, no self-respect, and no relatives.


Mark Charles
(Navajo)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Native Perspective on Monday Night Football and the Las Vegas Shooting

Photo by Rhoda LeValdo
Last night on ABC/ESPN Monday Night Football, the visiting team came out of the tunnel with a racist mascot on their jerseys and helmets, and mere minutes after the playing of the National Anthem, the host team's fans were still on their feet, mimicking the throwing of tomahawks and singing some sort of pathetic war whoop. Both team’s owners seemed fine with it. No one in the broadcast booth said anything. President Trump declined to tweet about it. And all the sponsors and advertisers like GMC, Geico, Applebee's, several beer companies and many other mainstream corporations (both foreign and domestic) shamelessly hawked their wares throughout the entire event.

This all happened less than 24 hours after a white man (Stephen Paddock) shot his, legally purchased, fully automatic weapon into a crowd of people. Killing 58 in a horribly evil and incredibly tragic event in Las Vegas. But earlier in the broadcast, just prior to a moment of silence being observed, ABC/ESPN announcer Sean McDonough repeated a lie that many news organizations had been reporting throughout the day. That this shooting was the "deadliest mass shooting US history." Apparently, they forgot about the massacre at Wounded Knee, which left 350 dead, or the massacre at Sand Creek which killed nearly 200 men, women, and children from the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. Or perhaps they only meant massacres for which the U.S. Congress DID NOT award Congressional Medals of Honor.

On top of that, according to the broadcast, only one person (KC player Marcus Peters) did not stand during the playing of the National Anthem before this game. Unless you count me. That raised the count to a grand total of 2. Perhaps there were more. I hope there were more. But it was striking that less than a week removed from one of the largest stands of solidarity against racism the NFL has ever seen, and now at a game where both teams blatantly represented the implicit racial bias the league has against indigenous people, the cameras caught only one person protesting.

My mother is American of Dutch heritage, and I'm proud to be an American, but I lament much of our nation's history. My father is Navajo, from the Waters that flow together people and the Bitter Water clan. And I'm proud to be Navajo. The unspoken history of this country says that these two sides are fundamentally incompatible. I'm expected to stand for the honoring of a flag that literally represents a history of genocide against indigenous people. And then I must sit silently during a game where both teams, and their fans, openly mock and belittle native people.

But I don't believe being both Native and American are incompatible. The problem is our country doesn't know it's history. The United States of America has a memory problem, we also have a race problem, a gender problem, a class problem and, most definitely, we have a gun problem. Therefore, I'm determined to do what I can to teach our history accurately and help create a common memory. Because unless we address these problems head on we're going to destroy ourselves.

George Erasmus, an Aboriginal leader from Canada, says, “Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.”

I'm convinced that the United States of America needs a national dialogue regarding our history. A dialogue on par with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that took place in South Africa, Rwanda and Canada. Beginning this week and over the next several weeks I will be traveling to Tennessee, Michigan, Washington DC, Arizona, Virginia, California, Alaska, Connecticut, and New Mexico. I will be speaking about the Doctrine of Discovery, teaching American history, and inviting my fellow citizens to join me in initiating this dialogue. A national Truth and Conciliation Commission that I call #TCC2021.

Until we understand and acknowledge the racist and sexist history that our flag stood for, we will not be able to transform it into a reality that all Americans can stand for.

Mark Charles

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Twitter Thread responding to @RealDonaldTrump for calling #ColinKaepernick a Son of a B*tch for kneeling in protest during National Anthem.

On Friday President Trump was speaking at a political rally for Luther Strange in Alabama. During the rally he called Colin Kaepernick a "Son of a B*tch" because of his practice of kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. President Trump went on to state that any NFL player who kneels during the National Anthem should be fired by the NFL team owners. On Saturday, President Trump reiterated his statements on Twitter.


I travel throughout the country speaking about the Doctrine of Discovery and its racist and dehumanizing influence on the foundations of the United States of America. Over the past several years I have spoken to thousands of people, but I do not know how to get an audience with President Trump to speak with him about this history. So I decided to address him using his preferred method of communication. Twitter. I composed a thread of 36 tweets. This thread is my attempt to educate him on the Doctrine of Discovery and the work that needs to be done on our foundations. I welcome you read the thread. Some of the tweets are embedded in this post, some are shared as graphics and some are simply printed as text. You can also read the entire thread on Twitter by clicking on the embedded Tweet below.  And if you feel so inclined, please re-tweet any of them. Who knows, we just might get his attention.

You state that you are not racist. So, giving you the benefit of the doubt, I must conclude you are unaware of our nations true history.

Please allow me to share with you a Native Perspective on American history and the Doctrine of Discovery.

The founding fathers embedded the Doctrine of Discovery deep into US Foundations (I.e. Declaration of Independence, Constitution & SCOTUS)



Making it very clear that the only reason founding fathers used inclusive term All men is b/c they had a very narrow definition of humanity.

Article 1 Sec. 2 of US Constitution excludes women & natives, it counts black people as 3/5th human. This only leaves white men.

The purpose of the US Constitution is to protect the interests of white, land owning, men (in 1776 only land owners could vote).





Section 1 of the 14th Amendment extends rights of citizenship to anyone born here under the jurisdiction of the govt.

But Section 2 still excludes women & natives and places the full rights of citizenship under jurisdiction of criminal justice system.

To this day, US Constitution contains 52 gender specific, male pronouns re: who can run for and hold public office or even is a citizen.



Marshall SCOTUS also references Doctrine of Discovery & rules natives only have right of occupancy while whites have the right of discovery.

This legal precedent and Doctrine of Discovery are referenced by SCOTUS again in 1954, 1985 and 2005.

In 1830 Andrew Jackson signed Indian Removal Act which results in Trail of Tears, Long Walk & deaths of tens of thousands of indigenous people.

19th century is filled with numerous massacres like Sand Creek in CO and Wounded Knee in SD.

Between 1839 and 1898 US Congress awards 425 Congressional Medals of Honor to US soldiers for ethnic cleansing of Turtle Island.



This is a hard fact to swallow, so here is the link to the recipients listed on US Army Center of Military History.
http://www.history.army.mil/moh/indianwars.html



Mr. President (@potus), The question is not "Why is Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest?" The question is "Why aren't you?"


Or we can commit ourselves to working hard to make the USA a nation where we the people finally means all the people.

Colin Kaepernick is respectfully kneeling in protest, doing his part to draw attention to the deep seeded racial problems that we face.

And you called him a “Son of a b-“ and said any NFL player who also kneels in protest should be fired by NFL.

When you are President of a nation that is systemically racist & sexist and you seek to silence the voices of those working for change…

you are either willfully ignorant or, blatantly sexist and white supremacist.

I tagged you in this thread so the prior will no longer be an excuse. But our nation needs you to decide…
The USA needs a national dialogue on race, gender and class. A Truth and Conciliation Commission on par w/ ZA, RW & CA. I call it #TCC2021

Respectfully,
Mark Charles
(Navajo)

And if you have a change of heart, my good friend @LeroyBarber is hosting a #NFLKneelDown protest in Detroit, Oct 8.
http://nflkneeldown.com/