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:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Public Reading of the Apology to Native Peoples of the United States.

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.

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)
Colby (Navajo)

Donnie Begay (Navajo)
J. Goins
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.
Terry Wildman
Ted Charles
And many others...

 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.


Unknown said...

Very cool. I too am honored to be your brother in Christ and to hear the long overdue apology being made public. I pray now we will all together work toward true peace and reconciliation. Thank you Mark for your good work toward this end.

Anonymous said...

Joe Kamphuis has expressed it very well. We continue to agree with the fulness of everything The Lord is bringing forward.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Looks like it was a great event. Sorry I wasn't there.

Anonymous said...

I personally have issue with this entire process you are embarking upon.

My reasons for this are as follows:

These Presidents along with the American public were NOT alive at the time you feel your people were done wrong. Asking the current leaders or American people to apologize for the past is akin to me asking for retribution from the Germans when they invaded "my peoples'" homeland; Poland.

Browsing through history we can clearly see that the Native American was not the only "peoples" that had their homeland taken in some way. We can see this occurring today as I type.

I know Native Americans personally and having spoken with them, seen first hand how they live I have to say that the Native American people themselves are now their own worst enemy and have been for decades.

I don't need to point out the social problems that plague the Native American communities, they are well known and I am certain you personally are well aware. Loosing your own language, not living by your "religion" truly yet claiming it, lost traditions and lack of ambition in all aspects of life have caused your people to rely solely on the American Government for the success of your people. I think if you worked with the Native American people in improving attitudes and ambitions it would be time far better spent than asking for a apology from the government.

Many nationalities came to this country seeking a better life and they lived in groups, i.e., the Irish established their own neighborhoods, the Italians, so on and so fourth. The success of these nationalities, people is due to holding onto their traditions out of pride. They worked hard living in poverty and discrimination. They succeeded because they stuck together, worked hard to overcome language barriers, discrimination, poverty, and more.

The Native American will do well when they no longer hold the past like a weeping child. They would do well for themselves to keep and teach language and tradition to their people. When they work hard, receive higher education, and regain pride success will come.

Success is earned not gathered by a government.

Lynn said...

In response to the anonymous comment from December 31, 2012: We are responsible for our sins - but there is a biblical pattern of "identificational repentance" which we see in the first chapter of Nehemiah:
I said, "I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses...
Nehemiah 1:5-7

and the ninth chapter of Daniel:
I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. ... Open shame belongs to us, O LORD, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
Daniel 9:4-6, 8

I believe this kind of ownership of corporate sins (not just MY sin but the sin of my family, of my community, my tribe, my nation) is what the Lord is looking for when He speaks of "standing in the gap" - Ezekiel 22:29-31, for example:

"The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads," declares the Lord GOD.

So for me the question becomes: was this an act of confession, of 'standing in the gap', or was it a rather cynical act enabling the gov't to check off a box and feel that they've done something good?

May God bless you and give you wisdom as you move forward, Mark.

-- Lynn --