Truth Be Told

Signed copies of the book I co-authored with Soong-Chan Rah, "Unsettling Truths - The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery" are available from my website:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Definition of Racial Reconciliation

"In obedience to God, racial reconciliation is a commitment to building cross-cultural relationships of forgiveness, repentance, love and hope that result in walking in beauty with one another and God."

Years ago, when I was called to pastor the Christian Indian Center in Denver CO, the Creator put a burden on my heart to understand his heart and his call for Racial Reconciliation.  So I started a small group and we did a survey of the Bible looking at as many references and stories in the Old and New Testaments that we could find regarding Racial Reconciliation.  The above definition is what we came up with.

Mark Charles

Additional resources regarding Reconciliation:
- A Native American Perspective on Columbus Day (YouTube)
- Reconciliation, Justice and Worship (Blogger)
- A Public Reading of the "Apology to Native Peoples of the United States" (Blogger)

To contact me or to submit a speaking request. Please visit my website (wirelesshogan)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Excerpts from UNSR report on "The Situation of indigenous peoples in the United States of America"

James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, published his report on "The Situation of indigenous peoples in the United States of America".  In his report he made 5 references to the Apology to Native Peoples that is buried in the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 3326), including calling on President Obama and Congress to publicize and act on this apology.

On a funny side note, I was mentioned in the appendix (page 45) as the "Wooden Shoe People representative".  LOL

Pg 17

74. The Special Rapporteur notes that the Government took a step that could be one on a path toward reconciliation, when in 2010 Congress adopted a resolution of apology to the indigenous peoples of the country, following in the spirit of the apology previously issued to Native Hawaiians (para. 65 above). Acknowledging widespread wrongdoing, the Apology states: “The United States, acting through Congress … apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States for the many instances of violence, maltreatment and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States [and] expresses its regret”. The apology also “urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land. The full text of the apology bears reading. However, strangely, the apology was buried deep in a defense appropriations act, and apparently few indigenous people, much less the public in general, were made aware of it.

Pg 18
75. Such an apology should not go unnoticed. Rather, it should be a point of public awakening and mark a path toward reconciliation, a path for concrete steps to address issues whose resolution is essential to defeating disharmony, and a path toward more enlightened framing of relations between indigenous peoples and the United States.

Pg 21
97.  In following up to the apology resolution adopted by Congress in 2010, which directs the President to pursue reconciliation with the country’s indigenous peoples, the President should develop, in consultation with them, a set of relevant initiatives in accordance with paragraphs 87-92 above. As an initial measure, the President should make the apology resolution widely known among indigenous peoples and the public at large, in a way that is appropriate to the sensitivities and aspirations of indigenous peoples, and within a broader programme that contributes to public education about indigenous peoples and the issues they face.

Pg 22
100. Congress should, in consultation with indigenous peoples, enact legislative reforms or altogether new legislation as required to achieve the reconciliation called for in its apology resolution of 2010.

Pg 45
116. Wooden Shoe People representative: Working to bring attention to the non-binding apology to Native Americans on behalf of the citizens of the United States that was included in the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.

Mark Charles

Friday, September 14, 2012

Press Release: Public Reading of the US Apology to Native Peoples

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 14, 2012
Contact: Mark Charles, (336) 462-8256;

"Public Reading of the US Apology to Native Peoples"
Fort Defiance, AZ – In Washington, DC, on December 19th at 11 am, the area in front of the US Capitol Building will become the stage for a national apology to Native Americans.

A diverse group of citizens, led by Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation, will host a public reading of the apology to native peoples of the United States, which is buried on page 45 of the 67 page-long 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 3326).  This date marks the third anniversary of the passing of H.R. 3326, and the apology.

The generic, non-binding apology, found in subsection 8113, was inserted by Senator Brownback (R-KS), who is now the Governor of Kansas.  This apology to native peoples on behalf of the citizens of the United States was not publicized by the White House or Congress at the time it was passed, nor has it been read publicly by President Obama.

When asked about what prompted him to initiate this public reading, Mark Charles said, “The wording of this apology and the way it was buried in an unrelated document were not appropriate or respectful ways to speak to the indigenous hosts of this land.”  Additionally, he stated, “this apology has not been clearly communicated to Native American elders, many of whom personally endured the horrors of boarding schools, re-location, and disenfranchisement.”

The appropriations portion of this bill (pages 1–45) will be read by the Native Americans in attendance in an effort to respectfully, yet clearly, highlight the irony of burying such important and historic words in a Department of Defense Appropriations Act.

The apology portion of this Act (sub-section 8113) will be translated into several native languages.  These translations will be read by some of the non-native people in attendance.  This will serve as a reminder that when an apology is made it should be communicated as clearly and sincerely as possible to the intended audience.

The event will conclude with an opportunity for some of those in attendance, both native and non-native, to publically respond.

Charles plans to share a vivid analogy regarding his reflections on the conflict of being Navajo in a country that fought against and colonized his people:

Being Native American and living in the United States feels like our indigenous peoples are an old grandmother who lives in a very large house. It is a beautiful house with plenty of rooms and comfortable furniture. But, years ago, some people came into our house and locked us upstairs in the bedroom. Today, our house is full of people. They are sitting on our furniture. They are eating our food. They are having a party in our house. They have since unlocked the door to our bedroom but it is much later and we are tired, old, weak and sick; so we can't or don't come out. But the part that is the most hurtful and that causes us the most pain, is that virtually no one from this party ever comes upstairs and finds us in the bedroom, sits down next to us on the bed, takes our hand, and simply says, "Thank you. Thank you for letting us be in your house."

This will not mark the end of this journey but rather the beginning.  It is the hope of the organizers that this event can establish safe and honest common ground where a national conversation for reconciliation between Native America and the rest of the country can begin.

About Mark Charles:
Mark Charles is a consultant, speaker and blogger who frequently travels throughout the United States and the world, engaging with Native Americans and other indigenous communities.  He advocates for their rights and seeks ways to establish their voice within religious, educational and government institutions. His website is and a video promoting this event can be found at

Additional contact information:
Mark Charles
Twitter: @wirelesshogan


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Praying for the Navajo People

Recently I was asked by a missionary from a church that has been working on our Navajo Reservation for a number of years, if I would be willing to write out some prayer requests for our people. I took several weeks to ponder this request as praying for the Navajo people is a tricky thing. It is so easy to focus on, and become overwhelmed by, our needs; unemployment, alcohol abuse, diabetes, broken families, suicides, and the list goes on and on. But I do not think focusing solely on these symptoms and praying only for their relief is all that is needed. Absolutely these issues need to be addressed, but the root, the cause of these symptoms is so much deeper.

For centuries our Navajo people, like all Native Americans, have been told by both the government and the church that we cannot be who we are. We have been told that if we want to live and have salvation, we must become something else. We must become American. And that is a lie. Our country needs us to be who God created us to be. And the church needs us to be who God created us to be. God has given us a unique language, culture, world view and history. They are no better than anyone else's but neither are they any worse. They are different. And in the Kingdom of God diversity is welcomed and different is necessary.

So when you pray for us, I ask you to pray that we will have the strength, the courage and the confidence to be who God created us to be. Also, please pray for the rest of the country and for the broader Church. Pray that their eyes will be opened and they will realize what they are missing when they embrace the worldly value of assimilation instead of celebrating the Kingdom value of diversity. In the Kingdom of God every part of the body is unique and every member is necessary. It is only when the parts of the body are diverse that the body is able to function. I thank you for your prayers and I thank you for your partnership in the Gospel


 Mark Charles

 P.S. I wrote these prayer requests on behalf of my people (Navajo), but by no means do I think these prayers are only for us. So I invite you to use them in your prayers for all tribes and indigenous peoples to whom you feel they are applicable.