Part 2 — Mark Charles — Native American 2020 candidate Wants ‘We The People’ to Mean ‘All The people’

Stanislas Berteloot
Aug 28 · 27 min read
Image for post
Image for post

Listen to Back in America

I am Stan Berteloot and this is Back in America, a podcast where I explore American’s identity, culture, and values.

My guest today is a candidate running as an independent for president of the United States. A man who’s not white, not black but a dual citizen of The United States and The Navajo Nation.

For three years he lived with his family in a one-room hogan with no running water or electricity out in a Navajo reservation. He dreams of a nation where ‘we the people’ truly means ‘all the people’.

Yet as we prepare to celebrate Memorial day he reminds us of the “ethnic cleansing and genocide” the United States carried against the indigenous peoples of this land.

Welcome to Back in America Mark Charles.


Stanislas Berteloot 0:00

Welcome. This is part two of an interview with Mark Charles a Native American and an independent candidate to the presidential elections of 2020.

I discovered the boarding school while in Phoenix, a Native American Museum, people were mistreated and dehumanized. What I also understood is that some Native Americans use that experience to politicize themselves in order to fight back the oppression Is that something you know, agree with?

Mark Charles 0:44

Yes. My grandfather was one was a person like that. I mean, he was a boarding school survivor. And he learned English well, he attended college. He didn’t graduate due to the Great Depression and he actually went to he testified in front of Congress. advocating for more funding for Indian education. So yeah, there’s a history of people, native peoples African people, women who have been trying to work within the system to get the system to treat these communities better. And on one hand, you could say, that’s what I’m doing with my campaign for president. But I’m, I’m taking it to a level that our nation has never dealt with before. Certainly, I am advocating that we deal with the foundations because that’s where the dehumanization, and the white supremacy, the racism and the sexism and I want to come back to that and

Stanislas Berteloot 1:43

I also want to tell me a bit more about the Doctrine of Discovery. But before we do that, let me come back to something that you mentioned and that you’re also mentioning in your video, the fact that you know, your experience is somewhat similar to, or at least you want to unify the black American with the Native Americans, yet my understanding that the relationship between the Native Americans and the blacks have not always been very easy or peaceful, some Native American, even enslaved blacks, you know, what’s your take on that?

Mark Charles 2:29

I will agree that there there is some bad history in the past between both African Americans and Native Americans. And again, any other group of people you’re going to see this and I would agree that that does exist there. My experience growing up was there was very little if any interaction between black and white because the three predominant demographics in the southwest are watching Latino or Latina dynamics, and natives, there’s very few, if any African Americans in the southwest, there are some. But but it’s a much smaller group. And so a lot of my experience growing up was there was just a lot of ignorance about even the history. And this is one of the challenges that we face. So because of the way race was constructed in America, again, where the the narrative of our country was, these lands were discovered, so there were no people here. And then African people were captured and brought over here and enslaved. And the way the black race was constructed, was in part through what’s called the one-drop rule. So the one-drop rule states that if you have a single drop of African blood, you’re black. Now, the reason we have these rules Because blacks were the enslaved demographic, they were used to build the country. And so this nation wanted as many of them as possible. So the one-drop rule allowed for a white slave owner to rape his female enslaved women and produce more people that they could enslave. Meanwhile, the native community, we had what’s known as the blood quantum rule that was applied to us. The blood quantum rule stated that if there was intermarriage, or if you know, you could be full and then half and then a quarter of an eighth and a 16th. And soon your nativeness could be bred out of you. Why do we have this rule for natives? Well, because the myth of the nation was we discovered these lands there were no people here. And the US government had treaty obligations to native people. So they want as few of us as possible. And so the American Indian race was constructed so it could be bred out of existence and eventually assimilated into the broader nation. And so because of these things. And because most of the places where because of the way enslavement works, the way the black population increased was where there were a lot of white people. And because natives were being ethnically cleansed and removed from these lands, and that best put on reservations, if not just silently killed wherever white people came, natives decreased. And so the Southwest was one place where there was some population of native peoples and there was some intermixing between the races. And so because of this there, there was very little interaction. Not none but very little interaction between the white or the black and the native races

Stanislas Berteloot 5:46

today, what are your own personal interactions with the African American communities? And how does it works out?

Mark Charles 5:54

I frequently get asked questions by people about how can they reach out to native peoples. How can they begin to learn the system And, and even build relationships within native communities? And oftentimes, they’re not looking really to build relationships, they’re looking for ways to kind of give charity or to learn some things and study a few new things. And I work very hard to direct people in a different path. And so I work very hard to tell people this is all about building relationships. And so I’ve tried to take the very same approach to my understanding of the African American community. Okay, because I grew up in an area where there were so few African Americans, I’ve learned that I have to be very intentional, to build relationships within that community. And so for most of my adult life, where we’ve moved around the country, even the churches we’ve attended, or sometimes the neighborhoods we lived in, we have been very intentional to put ourselves in a space where we are interacting with the African American community and seeing some of the challenges and some of the struggles and then in the context of That beginning to be building relationships within that community, you know, the challenges is that as a nation, we see all these things in silos. And so the nation because of the way the population has worked out, it tends to deal primarily with white versus black and to focus on the issue the injustice of slavery. But the challenge is, it’s not that siloed we have women who are dealing with issues of sexism and assault, we have Native Americans who are dealing with issues of genocide and ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide and boarding schools and removal have African Americans who are dealing with histories of enslavement and Jim Crow, and segregation and all communities of color dealing with issues of mass incarceration. And these are very much not siloed things and yet, often were put into silos. And so by taking this approach, of investing deeply in relationships within these diverse communities, This is what helped lead me even into this understanding of one of the primary visions of my platform, which is that our nation needs a national dialogue on race, gender, and class, a conversation that steps out of the silos and actually begins to look at the root of what’s causing these challenges in all of our communities.

Stanislas Berteloot 10:31

How is it being welcomed by the community, the black community?

Mark Charles 10:34

Well, again, so a lot of this is helping people understand the value of having this dialogue rooted in a much deeper history, not just in the history of one demographic, or one group of people, or even one narrative. And there there’s a there’s a native leader from Canada. His name is George Rasmus and when he was writing In regards to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that happened in Canada, out of their residential schools, he used this quote where he said, where common memory is lacking where people do not share on the same path, there can be no real history or no real community. If you want to build a community says you have to start by creating a common memory. Now, this is a very good idea, not just for white people, but for all Americans to understand that there are so many stories of the people who live here, people who call themselves citizens, whether it’s this the stories of enslavement, the stories of, of, you know, of the Holocaust, the stories of internment camps, the stories of boarding schools, and removal and massacres. There are all these different stories and we don’t by and large as a nation have a common memory. People will know the story within their silos, but they won’t know the stories of the broader nation that the more the narrative of the broader community. And so what I’m really trying to do is to say, hey, there’s a value in learning all of these stories and giving, giving voice to all of these different demographics so that we as a nation can actually have a healthier community. And I get that, but then what that vision is, is heard Well, it’s received well, the people who hear it think it’s beautiful and really like it.

Stanislas Berteloot 12:32

Yeah. And what I’m trying to get at is, you know, what concrete action Did you see from other communities, including the black communities in joining the common understanding and this common memory. You know, my, my experience, looking at my experience of, you know, white guy in this country, is that as you said, this is very siloed and the black say look our experience is so different from anything else that we need to fight for ourselves, nobody else but us can carry on this fight. You come with a very different view, saying let’s bring together our common experience in order to create a memory that will never else fight to be even stronger. But did you see that actually being picked up by other communities?

Mark Charles 13:30

What I find among the demographics is when we are able to properly educate everybody with some of the true histories of all the communities, and when you read the Constitution, and there’s really three demin four demographics that the constitution defines very clearly. You know, it starts with the words in the preamble with people. That sounds inclusive. It sounds like oh, everybody is a part of this. But Article One, Section Two, which is this Section of the Constitution just a few lines below the preamble that defines who actually is included and we the people. And first of all, it never mentioned women. And this is important because if you read the entire constitution preamble to the 27th amendment, you will find that there are 51 gender specific male pronouns 51 he him in his who can run for office who can hold office even who’s protected by the document, there’s not a single female pronoun and the entire constitution. So we have to know Article One, section two never mentioned women. Second is specifically excludes natives. And third accounts, Africans is three-fifths of a person. So, in 1787, that leaves white men and it was white land-owning men who could vote. So there’s an expectation that everybody is included. And one of the clearest ways to identify this is this crisis that’s going on right now in Indian Country known as missing and murdered indigenous Women and Girls, where there are literally hundreds if not thousands of Indigenous women who’ve been reported missing or reported more murdered by their families, to law enforcement, local, state, and even federal. And not only are their cases not being closed, but often they’re not even being opened. Their families are literally left to go and hunt for them themselves. When I was at the Franklin Mayer Native American presidential forum, they were asking the candidates about this, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, who in Costco, Kamala Harris, and as they learned about this crisis, they were all responding and saying, We need a new law or new policy to protect this vulnerable demographic. However, as a native man who’s read our constitution and knows our history, my response was and is, when your declaration calls Decker’s independence calls native savages and your constitution never mentioned to women. You shouldn’t be prize when your Indigenous women go missing and get murdered, and society and the government doesn’t care, a new law isn’t going to fix this problem because the law is ultimately based on our foundations. And it’s our foundations that state this group is not included. If we want to fix this problem, we have to fix our foundations.

Stanislas Berteloot 16:24

Yeah, and how do you explain it? I mean, besides, you know, what you just said about the Constitution, you know, why is this demographic missing? And my question is, is it because they are not reported properly at the first place? I mean, are they tracked Native American woman are they do they have papers I mean, are there listings?

Mark Charles 16:46

that’s the problem. There’s no central listing there’s nothing they even though they get reported, nothing happens or very little happens on the on the the system the the institutional side of the law enforcement

And suddenly

Stanislas Berteloot 17:01

that’s been going on for years, right? I mean,

Mark Charles 17:03

yes. Everybody knows about that. And this is this is the problem. And this is why it’s a crisis. And this is also why. And so one of the ways you you, I look at it. Um, there’s an author named William Jennings, who’s talked about this idea of proximity to whiteness. When you understand the Doctrine of Discovery, you read our foundations and you realize that technically, the foundations were written for white, landowning, technically Christian men. That is like the sweet spot of this country. If you’re a white land owning Christian male, the United States of America is your oyster. Y ou have every opportunity, every possibility, many, many many chances to come and find your fortunes.

Now, depending on what other demographics You are so myself I’m a male with dark skin because I’m Navajo. And I am a Christian, but I don’t own any land. So I fit two of the four categories, right? I’m, I’m a male. I’m a native male, who’s a Christian. So I get two and I missed two. So there’s a few ways that I can have this proximity to whiteness to be included within the system. Lower down at the bottom, you have women of color, African American women, other women of color, they’re not white, they’re not male. They may be Christian, and if they work very, very, very hard, they might be able to become a landowner. So they have one, maybe one and a half of the four categories. At the very bottom, very bottom, a group that has almost no proximity and even very little chancer proximity are indigenous women.

A, if they’re indigenous, and they’re living on their reservation, there’s a good chance they follow their traditional religion. So they’re not Christian. Because they’re on a reservation, which is federal lands held in trust for the tribes, they can’t own land. They’re not white, and they’re not male. They fit none of the categories and have very little chance of gaining access to any of those categories. So they are at the very, very, very bottom. And so one of the things that I’m trying so hard to do is until we include the people at the very bottom, we’re not going to be able to include everybody. So if I were just fighting for the rights of Navajo men, then I would still believing women of color, who have no idea opportunity to have those access points. And this is why I go back frequently to to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Because again, this is the demographic that has almost zero proximity to whiteness. And therefore it’s it we have to take note that this is the group of people that even when they get reported as missing or murdered, society doesn’t respond.

Stanislas Berteloot 20:29

I want to ask you about the current pandemic. For the past few decades, Native American nations have been increasingly taken on a greater responsibility for providing a wide range of governmental services. Yet, as Native American nation cannot raise tax, as you know, the rest of the government there were dependent on casinos or enterprises that because of the pandemic have been closed and that make the situation harder for the American Native American people now to deal with, you know, what’s, what’s your take on on this situation?

Mark Charles 21:10

I would argue that the the root of the problem comes down to sovereignty or control over their own lands and land titles. This is this is at the root of what is causing so much the challenge for our native nations.

If you follow the news

Stanislas Berteloot 21:30

and we are dealing with or you are talking about the challenge when it comes to the coronavirus

Mark Charles 21:35


I’m just talking about in general the chat Yes, and this fits in very close to the Coronavirus and I can understand why. So, um how can I do this without going on for 20 minutes Um, so, a few a few in March actually mean go back in the Obama administration established reservation lands for the mashpee Wampanoag in Massachusetts. Joe Biden this was part of the Biden Obama administration. In his second term, he established reservation lands for the mashpee Wampanoag. In March of this year, march of 2020. The Trump administration disestablished those reservations. So essentially, if you think of it, that if you think of the US government as the landlord, and the native nations as the tenants, and the reservation as the apartment, what happened is, cousin Obama gave an apartment to the native nation. And then during a global pandemic, President Trump kicked them out of the apartment. So a it was unjust it was it was heartless but be the timing of it was horrible. This was like kicking someone out of their apartment during a hurricane. It just it’s if there was not only is it heartless to evict evict people, but to evict them in the midst of a global pandemic is like, it’s just it’s completely heartless. And so there was a lot of outcry amongst the general population, people who knew about it. This was a cruel act by the Trump administration. And even President, Vice President Biden responded to this. And he wrote a letter responding to the the injustice of that, and I want to just read one of the quotes from his letter he wrote, he pointed out how it was cruel of the Trump administration to disestablish this reservation, during a pandemic, he reminded the country that the Obama administration and with him helped establish this result servation and then he went on and he said one of the most important roles the federal government plays in rebuilding the nation to nation relationship is taking land into trust on behalf of tribes. It is critical for tribal sovereignty and self determination. Now, that statement is dripping with white supremacy and dehumanization. Let’s just for for fun. Let’s insert France instead of native tribes. Okay. One of the most important roles the federal government plays in rebuilding the nation to nation relationship is taking land into trust on behalf of France. It is critical for French sovereignty and self determination. If President Trump or President Obama or anyone said that to another foreign leader, those would be words of war.

Stanislas Berteloot 24:51

Yeah, that would be an outcry

Mark Charles 24:53

you wouldn’t you would. This is A this is not a nation to nation relationship. And this has nothing to do with sovreignty and self determination. Right. And so the fascinating thing about this is in joe biden’s mind, Trump is bad because he kicked in the wife mashpee Wampanoag out, he and pressident Obama were good because they let them in. But neither one of them are understanding the injustice of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (Turtle Island is a name for North America, used by many Native Americans and First Nations people and by Indigenous rights activists), being considered mere tenants in the lands that were stolen, and ethnically cleanse by the government, of their people. And so this is, and this is where the Doctrine of Discovery lies. And so, because there is no sense of native rights to land, we are merely tenants we’re merely occupants, and that is rooted in the Doctrine of Discovery.

A Supreme Court case back in 1823 JOHN Marshall is the first case referencing the Doctrine of Discovery.

Its reference as recently as 2005. I did a TEDx talk on this called we the people the three most misunderstood words in US history, laying out the court case in 2005, the United Indian nation versus the city of Charlotte in New York, I entered, I lay out how this is one of the most white supremacist Supreme Court opinions written in my lifetime that again, denies the United Indian nation rights to their land based on the Doctrine of Discovery. And that opinion was written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Yeah, again. So so in the midst of this pandemic, the Navajo Nation now has the highest rate of infection of any if it were a state, we would have the highest rate of were higher than new New York and New Jersey, on the Navajo Nation. Health care is rural there. There’s not enough hospitals. We have almost 200 thousand people on the Navajo Nation because of history and cultural differences and understandings. Social distancing is a challenge to get our people to social distance. Because of the rising numbers on the Navajo Nation, the county of McKinley, McKinley County, New Mexico, became the highest rate of infection in New Mexico, which is where this the city of Gallup lives, which is where I grew up, right, the end of last month, end of April, the outgoing mayor of Gallup was seeing this rising infection rate he was seeing what was happening to the two hospitals they have in Gallup and he was looking at what was taking place on their closest neighbor which is the Navajo Nation.

Now the Navajo Nation is a food desert 200,000 people about 26,000 square miles 13 full service grocery stores.

The border towns are absolutely crucial because There’s not enough inventory on the Navajo Nation to feed our people. So you have to go to the border towns on the weekends to buy groceries. Many of our people are on fixed incomes and they get a check from the government at the end of the month. And so the end of the month you’re stretching your budget and your food. And then the first of the month when you get your check or your money, you have to go to the border town to buy groceries. The city of Gallup New Mexico cannot exist economically. Without the influx of money from the Navajo Nation. It cannot exist without without this business.

On the last second the last day of the month, the outgoing mayor in April, sent a letter to the governor of New Mexico, asking her to invoke the riot control act so they could shut the roads into gallop. So they shut the roads into Gallup put police officers and National Guards they’re literally at to keep natives from coming into town and buying groceries at gunpoint.

Stanislas Berteloot

Whoa. So what happened?

Mark Charles

They shut it down for almost two weeks. How did the people eat?

Stanislas Berteloot 29:23

Where did they find the food?

Mark Charles 29:24

Well, they would have to eat understand in a long line at the one of the few grocery stores on the reservation or traveled to another border town to my to two hours in the other direction. Again, I fully admit this was a crisis 250 years in the making. There was no good solution to this problem. But of all the bad solutions they could have possibly found. invoking the riot control act on people who are not Riot who are not rioting, and who are foundations already dehumanized, and to lock them out of this town where they literally just trying to buy groceries That’s probably the worst of the bad solutions they have in front of them. And so that’s happening there. Meanwhile, you have in South Dakota, there are several roads that pass right through many of the reservations in South Dakota and the tribes in South Dakota fearing knowing how vulnerable their population is because of access to hospitals and access to healthy food and this the challenges they face knowing how vulnerable their populations are to COVID-19 decided to set up checkpoints not to keep people out but to monitor who’s passing through so they could protect their population, and that the white governor of south dakota began challenging them and demanding that they not take these actions to protect their people, and recently is two days ago reached out to the Trump administration, asking for federal help to stop the tribes from doing this. So in New Mexico, you have the net, the Navajo, the native nations and Navajo Nation being told by the governor, they can’t go into a border town. And in South Dakota, you have the the the governor telling native nations, they cannot protect their people on the land that’s been established as their reservation. This is the problem. And Joe Biden thinks this relationship is just great.As well as Donald Trump does.

Stanislas Berteloot 31:35

Mark we’ve been we’ve been talking for an hour and I have three more questions, which I really want to ask you. One question is from one of our listeners, who is asking what do you think of President Trump’s actions regarding the world since the beginning of his governance,

Mark Charles 31:53

So one of the challenges because our nation doesn’t have a common memory because we have this mythological History is there’s this narrative coming out of our country that President Trump is ruining our nation. He’s destroying our nation. We used to be this great nation. And now we’re not.

I absolutely agree President Trump has a problem. But he’s not the root of the problem.

We have to do to this day we have a declaration of independence that calls native savages. To this day, one of our greatest presidents as a country that we hold up as our greatest President Abraham Lincoln was one of the most white supremacists and ethnic cleansing presidents in our nation’s history. People act and I actually wrote that article, I wrote two articles there on my blog on my campaign website, which is

One of the articles is titled um, President Trump and Biden are both peddling this nostalgia and that’s a problem. So they’re both talking about how America used to be great. And now it’s not so Donald Trump is running to make America great again. Implying it wasn’t beforehand. Vice President Biden is saying, well, let’s bring America back to its former greatness. Apparently, before President Trump.

The only people who can have a nostalgic memory about this country are white people. They’re the only people there’s a there’s an ad by by President, Vice President Biden just a few weeks ago, that it was a brilliant ad. It was about the COVID-19 pandemic. And it said, it basically used quotes of Donald Trump of his denial of this pandemic and what was happening with it and it it ended was saying it had a quote, where it said, President Trump didn’t build a great economy. He destroyed one. Okay. Now, again, that sounds most Americans are going to read that and say, yes, President Trump is doing all these things to destroy our economy and look. Well, this is implying that the economy our nation had three months ago was great. So three months ago, yes, corporate profits were an all-time high. Unemployment was at an all time low. But we had millennials drowning in debt from education. We have most people working a lot of our millennials working two three jobs in the gig economy just to make ends meet. Healthcare is abysmal. Yeah, for white landowning men three months ago, the economy was great. They were making money hand over foot. For everyone else. We were barely scraping by living paycheck to paycheck. See, this is the problem. The the whole notion that we used to be great, President Trump is ruining this great country completely ignores the incredible racism, sexism and white supremacy of our nation. I wrote another article a few months ago, this was during the height of the of the impeachment proceedings. And that article was titled, if you think simply impeaching Donald Trump is the solution, then you don’t understand the problem. Absolutely. Donald Trump is a problem. He has appeared very narcissistic. He has this very short-sighted policy. He’s, yeah, he’s definitely not a very constructive president.

But, so we’re most of our even great presidents. Abraham Lincoln ethnically cleanse and literally was a white supremacist, blatant white supremacist. Ronald Reagan started war on drugs, which was technically a war on race. Bill Clinton perfected the art of mass incarceration and filled our prisons with people of color. So, not to think Trump is the only problem is has a very, it ignores most of the history of our country.

Stanislas Berteloot 36:31

Do you think that this nation who’s original sin includes the enslavement of black people, and the extermination of Native American? Do you think that this nation will ever be able to live together?

Mark Charles 36:44

The vision of my country of my of my campaign is I am calling the question and I’m asking our country do we want to be a nation where we the people truly mean to all the people? I don’t know the answer. answer to that question. I don’t know what my nation is going to decide. If they decide No, then that’s fine. That’s great. We’re doing a good job of that because we’re obviously not a nation where we the people include everybody. If we do want to be a nation where we the people means all the people, then we have to deal with our foundations. We have to do some foundational level work, the United States of America is not racist and sexist and white supremacists, in spite of our foundations. were racist, sexist, and white supremacists because of our foundations. And we have to address that and so I cannot make my nation not be racist, sexist and white supremacists. I can present a vision and I can ask the question, do we want to be this or not? If we do want to be that, then we have to look at some very serious changes. We need to make And so yeah, that’s really what my campaign is all about. And I, to be honest, I know there’s a lot of people who like my vision. But there are also a lot of people who are pretty convinced that things are just fine the way they are.

Stanislas Berteloot 38:19

One question I always ask is: what is America to you?

Mark Charles 38:27

America is a colonial nation founded on stolen lands, broken treaties, enslavement, racism, sexism, ethnic cleansing and genocide. It desperately wants to be something else. But it doesn’t know if it’s willing to put in the work to become that And that’s what I’m trying to ask. And that’s what I’m working towards as a candidate for president. That’s the vision I’m holding out. That’s the very, very basic question. I’m trying to get my country to answer. And I’m being as honest as I can and saying if we want that we have some extremely difficult work that we need to do. Okay.

Stanislas Berteloot 39:36

Finally, Mark, do you have any books or movies that you would recommend?

Mark Charles 39:42

One of the first books about the Doctrine of Discovery that I was ever exposed to it written by a native author, his name is Steven Newcomb. He’s Shawnee and Lenape and he wrote a book called Pagans in the Promised Land.

And it’s a very in-depth book about the Doctrine of Discovery and it was Once again, one of the first books I was exposed to regarding this doctrine, and I highly respect Steve for the work that he’s done. And the way he has tried to press the conversation forward on the doctrine and even trying to get the nations and even the church to acknowledge it. While he and I may not agree on everything about about the doctrine, I highly respect his work, and I think his voice is one that needs to be heard. I also just recently published a book on the Doctrine of Discovery, titled Unsettling Truths, the Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, my co author, Soong-Chan Rah, we published this book last November, November 2019. It came out and it really is the result of years of research looking and trying to understand not only what has been said about the doctrine, but trying to understand how it has become so embedded into the church and how it has affected on the foundation. of the country, but even our history and what we’ve done as a nation, and so it really is filled with a lot of unsettling truths.

And it’s a it’s a book I’m very proud of. It’s one I hope a lot of people in our nation will read, whether or not they’re Christian, I often tell people that even if you’re not Christian, you have to understand the history of the church. If you don’t understand the history of the church, you will never fully understand the history of the nation because the two have become so intertwined over the past 250 years. As far as movies, there’s two movies, they’re both documentaries that I talked about, I referenced a lot and I really would like people to watch them. One is called homelands for portraits of native action. And it looks at four different tribes, Alaska, Maine, Montana and New Mexico are where they’re from, and really wrestling with how these tribes are working reactively to maintain some sense of ownership. And sovereignty or space within their homelands. And I find a lot of insight in this documentary. And I highly recommend it to people.

There’s another documentary that just came out, even in the past six months is called Somebody’s Daughter.

And it’s looking very closely at the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, tells a very compelling story goes very in-depth into the history and into some of the systemic problems with it. And I highly recommend this documentary. It’s not available even online yet, but there’s a trailer online but it’s still screening in different places around the country. And I highly recommend that if people are able to see a screening of this documentary that they take time to do it. Once again, it’s called Somebody’s Daughter and was directed by Rain.

Stanislas Berteloot

Okay, that’s good. Anything else you wish I would have asked you?

Mark Charles

One of the things I look most forward to, if elected president is appointing a Native American or nominating a Native American as my secretary of state.

One of the reasons I want to do this is because not only does the US not have a common memory of its own history, but most of our allies don’t have a common memory of our of their own history. And the reason most of the Western Europe is our ally is because we are all very colonial nations. France at one point was the largest colonial landholder in the in North America.

And with the Louisiana Purchase, sold, not only vast amounts of land but huge amounts of people within those lands, to the US and I would really look forward both as president and with my secretary of state as being the head ambassador for this nation to the world, not to break these relationships, but to really challenge them.

And to, to press the question, what does it mean for us collectively to deconstruct our colonialism and become better global citizens of this interconnected world we now live in? And I, you know, a lot of what I see going on in Europe, around immigration around closing borders, all these things, I see the root of that coming stemming from this unresolved on acknowledged colonial history that these countries don’t know what to do with.

And so I

I’m looking forward to if I get elected president, to what can what not only what can we do here in the US to deal with our colonial past. But how can that dialogue also extend out to other nations, and even to heads of states of other nations to really challenge and initiate the dialogue about the colonial history that came out of almost all of Western Europe?

And yeah, that’s something I very much look forward to trying to engage in and to see where that goes and what happens with that.

Stanislas Berteloot

If you are not elected president, would you be ready to walk with the elected government in order to improve the relationship with the government and the Native Americans.

Mark Charles

One of the biggest challenges is because the things I’m calling for are so foundational, that most… Let me rephrase another way. I’m running as an independent.

I’m running as independent because I am convinced after extensive research and an observation that neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party have any interest in making these changes at the foundational levels that I’m proposing.

They are too much dependent upon these colonial racist, sexist and white supremacist systems, that they are not willing to address foundational level change. And so I’m still trying to work within the system, not the system of the two parties, but of our system of governance and our and our presidential system to introduce this dialogue and get the nation to address these things. But I am quite certain that neither Vice President Biden nor Donald Trump have any interest in engaging the conversations. I’m trying to engage at the levels I’m trying to engage them at.

Stanislas Berteloot

Thank you so much, Mark Charles, for this interview and good luck for your campaign.

Mark Charles

Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you today and I look forward to having some more dialogue in the future.

Books and Movie Recommendation

Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery
by Steven Newcomb

Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery
by Mark Charles, Soong-Chan Rah

Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action (2005)
Director: Roberta Grossman

Somebody’s Daughter by Rain

Back in America

The Podcast

Stanislas Berteloot

Written by

VP of Global Growth at VisaHQ — Co-Founder of — Based in Princeton, NJ

Back in America

The Podcast Back in America explores the American’s identity, culture, and values.

Stanislas Berteloot

Written by

VP of Global Growth at VisaHQ — Co-Founder of — Based in Princeton, NJ

Back in America

The Podcast Back in America explores the American’s identity, culture, and values.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store