The Invitation (Archived from 2012)
Join the Conversation for Reconciliation:
December 19, 2012
Page 45 of the 2010 Department of Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 3326) contains an apology to Native Americans on behalf of the citizens of the Unites States. This apology is buried in a 67 page bill that has never been clearly communicated or shared with the nearly 5 million Native American citizens of this country.
Our mission is to invite our nation’s citizens and leaders, as well as members of the global community, to gather at the US Capitol on December 19, 2012 and join our efforts to communicate as publically, as humbly and as respectfully as possible the contents of H.R. 3326 (and the apology enclosed therein) to the Native American tribes, communities and citizens of the United States of America.
It is our hope that this event will establish safe and honest common ground where a national conversation for reconciliation between our country and Native America can begin.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2012
Contact: Mark Charles, (336) 462-8256; firstname.lastname@example.org
“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.