Published October 3, 2017
Last night on Monday Night Football, one team came out of the tunnel with a racist mascot on their jerseys and helmets, and the other team’s fans were mimicking throwing tomahawks and singing some sort of pathetic war whoop. Both of the teams’ owners seemed fine with it. No one in the broadcast booth said anything. There were no tweets from President Trump about it. And all of the sponsors and advertisers like GMC, Geico, several beer companies and many other mainstream corporations (both foreign and domestic) gladly hawked their wares throughout the entire event.
This all happened less than 24 hours after a white guy shot his fully automatic weapon into a crowd of people, killing at least 59 people and injuring 527 in a horribly evil and incredibly tragic event in Las Vegas. But throughout the day most news organizations referred to this shooting as the deadliest mass shooting in the history of America.
Apparently, the media 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 Arapahoe tribes. Or perhaps they only meant massacres for which the U.S. Congress DIDN’T award Congressional Medals of Honor.
On top of that, according to the broadcast, only one person did not stand during the singing of the National Anthem before this game. Unless you count me. That raises the count to a grand total of two. I’m proud to be an American, but I lament much of our nation’s history. I’m also proud to be Navajo. And the unspoken history of this country says that those two sides of me are inherently incompatible. So 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, mock and belittle Native people with dishonor to my culture.
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.
I’m convinced that we, the United States of America, need a national dialogue regarding our history, on par with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions which took place in South Africa, Rwanda and Canada. Over the next several weeks I will be traveling to Tennessee, Michigan, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Connecticut and even here in DC. I will be speaking about the Doctrine of Discovery, teaching our 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 the history that our flag stood for, we will not be able to transform it into a reality that we can all stand for.
Mark Charles (Navajo) serves as the Washington DC correspondent for Native News Online and is the author of the popular blog “Reflections from the Hogan.” His writings are regularly published by Native News Online in a column titled “A Native Perspective” which addresses news directly affecting Indian Country as well as offering a Native perspective on national and global news stories. Mark is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram .
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