October 26, 2021

Episode 09 – “The Native Story” with Mark Charles

We live in a society full of unsettling truths. So what do we do with that? Do we sit down and ignore the fact, leaving in its wake pain and trauma from ignorance? Or do we decide to do something about it like educating ourselves, informing others, and taking action? Mark Charles shares how to face the unsettling truths and how we can help make our world a more equitable place.
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Show Notes


Guest Bio:

Mark Charles is a dual citizen as an American and a Navajo Native American. He is an activist for Native American rights and educates people about racism. He is also a public speaker, author, and previous presidential candidate. He recently wrote Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah.


Summary of EPISODE:

When Americans stop to think about the land we live on, we tend to think about Christopher Columbus settling on it instead of the Native Americans who were here first. When was the last time you thought about the Native American people who lived here first? Have you thought about the reservations where our Native American fellow human beings live? 

On this episode of Where Ya From?, Mark Charles talks about the journey of learning the trauma and racism that still impacts Native Americans today. His education about the history of his people and America as a country teaches us all about the deep roots of racism that are still hurting each of us. His own traumatic life experience taught him how to see and learn more about the trauma in the people around him, and in this episode he teaches us how to see it as well.


Notes and Quotes:

  • “The fact that Christopher Columbus is identified in our history books, by our politicians and proclamations, as the discoverer of America, reveals the worldview . . . [that] they viewed these lands as empty. They did not see us as human.”
  • “The stated goal was actually to kill the Indian to save the man. Just like all the other boarding schools, they would take native children from their homes. They would put them into these military-style boarding schools. They were punished for speaking their languages. They were punished for practicing their culture.”
  • “I had the thought of, I’ve never forgiven myself for being the driver of the car that claimed the life of my brother . . . . This was the first time I actually was allowing all of that bottled up anger, emotion, frustration, fear at myself at the situation and everything . . . . It was a very terrifying, healing and beautiful moment, all kind of wrapped into one. I had friends around me who were holding me, praying for me, comforting me. I had a very deep sense of my faith, in that God was holding me and comforting me through that.”
  • “A ‘hogan’ is a traditional Navajo dwelling. It usually has log walls, a dirt floor, and a mud roof. It works very well in the Southwest. It keeps things warm and dry in the winter and cool in the summer.” 
  •  “There’s another trauma called complex PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. So, complex PTSD is still an individual diagnosis, but it doesn’t come from a single event, it comes from a series of events. So if you can get PTSD from being assaulted, you can get complex PTSD from living in an abusive relationship . . . . I would refer to historical trauma as a multi-generational and communal manifestation of a complex PTSD.”
  • “You cannot build a nation on dehumanizing injustice without traumatizing yourself.”
  • “You cannot discover lands that are already inhabited. You can steal those lands. You can conquer those lands. You can colonize those lands. You cannot discover them, unless you believe the people who are there aren’t fully human.”
  • “The hope I get is that the Spirit of God is doing something to be radically inclusive of everybody.”
  • “Jesus did not come to create a Christian empire. He came to make disciples. He came to offer his body as a living sacrifice. He came to plant a church.”
  • “I can keep the humanity of everybody in question in front of me. It allows me to treat people better, allows me to speak the truth without using the truth as a weapon, which is easy to do.”


Links Mentioned In Show:


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