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Mark Charles

Speaker links use of Native mascots in pro sports to dehumanizing references found in the Declaration of Independence


Mark Charles
Founder/Director 5 Small Loaves

Speaker connects use of Native mascots in professional sports to dehumanizing references found in the Declaration of Independence

Nashville, TN – March 18, 2015 – Did you know that the Declaration of Independence refers to Native Americans as “merciless Indian Savages?” If you are like the vast majority of audiences Mark Charles has spoken to throughout the country the answer is “No.”

At 10 AM on Wednesday, March 18, Mark Charles (Navajo) will speak on the topic of Native American Mascots in professional sports at the College of Theology and Christian Ministry at Belmont University. Mark is a Christian and Native American activist who speaks and lectures throughout the country regarding Native American social justice issues including the Doctrine of Discovery.

The Doctrine of Discovery is a series of Papal Bulls (official edicts) written in the 15th Century. Mark summarizes the Doctrine in this way; “The Doctrine of Discovery is the Church in Europe saying to the nations of Europe, whatever lands you find not ruled by Christian rulers, those people are less than human and their lands are yours for the taking.” Mark goes on to say, “It was the Doctrine of Discovery that justified European nations colonizing Africa and enslaving the African people. It was also the Doctrine of Discovery that allowed Christopher Columbus to get lost at sea, land in a new world that was already inhabited by millions, and claim to have ‘discovered’ it.

In his lecture Mark will highlight ways the Doctrine of Discovery has shaped and influenced our nation at its most foundational levels, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and US Supreme Court case law.

Mark will point out the contradiction between the statement “All men are created equal” and the dehumanizing reference to the native peoples as “merciless Indian savages” in the Declaration of Independence. He concludes that the reason this contradiction exists is because the founders of our nation did not consider the indigenous peoples of North America to be human.

Given the Doctrine of Discovery’s influence on our nation at such a foundational level, it is no surprise that the professional football team located in our nation’s capital utilizes a dehumanizing and racist mascot, the “Washington Redskins.”

Mark will end his presentation by publicly calling on Dan Snyder to show respect to the indigenous peoples of North America by breaking from the racist and dehumanizing foundation of the Doctrine of Discovery and giving the Washington DC professional football team a different mascot. Mark will also layout his vision for a series of national conferences to educate our citizens and our leaders regarding the racist influence the Doctrine of Discovery has had on our nation’s policies, laws and institutions.

This lecture is free and open to the public. It will begin at 10 AM at Belmont University in the Beaman Meeting Rooms A&B.

About Mark Charles:
Mark Charles is a speaker, writer, and consultant from Fort Defiance, Ariz., located on the Navajo Reservation. The son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man, Mark speaks with insight into the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the nation. Mark consults as a resource development specialist for Indigenous worship through Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, serves as a national board member for the Christian Community Development Association, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church of North America. Mark is the founder and director of 5 Small Loaves, an organization that pursues racial reconciliation through honest education, intentional conversation, and meaningful action. In December of 2012, Mark organized and hosted a public reading of the US Apology to Native Peoples buried on page 45 of the 2010 Department of Defense appropriations bill.

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