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Native American speaker presents vision of ‘51st virtual state’

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posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 09:09 AM
GALLUP — Mark Charles would like Native Americans to start thinking outside the box about themselves and their political voice — or lack of voice — in the United States.

Charles, of Fort Defiance, Ariz., spoke to a small group of community members at UNM-Gallup on Thursday about his idea for the country’s Native American people to join together to create a “51st Virtual State” for Native people.

A graduate of UCLA, Charles is a public speaker, writer, computer programmer, minister, and consultant on Native American issues. The son of a Navajo father and a Dutch-American mother from the “Wooden Shoe Clan,” Charles joked about his childhood. “I grew up in a Dutch ghetto just off the Navajo Reservation,” he said of Rehoboth.

Charles explained he came up with the idea of a 51st virtual state for Native Americans after returning to the Navajo Nation and living for three years with his family in a traditional hogan in Cross Canyon, Ariz. There’s a lot of time to think, he explained, when you’re living in a dirt-floor hogan with no running water and no electricity.

After living on the Navajo Nation for the last five years, Charles said he also did a lot of thinking about the last two presidential elections and why Native Americans don’t have a seat at America’s political table.

“How come I never hear a candidate talk about the Native American vote?” Charles asked. But for Charles, living in an isolated, rural area of an Indian reservation provided the answer. Although there are more than 500 Native American tribes in the United States, the total population of Native people is so small that their political voice is marginalized.

Candidates aren’t very interested in communities that have no real voting power.

Even the Navajo Nation, with its large population, isn’t a strong political block, Charles said. “As a Navajo people, as a nation, we can’t vote together,” he said, noting Navajo voter power is split between Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

However, if all Native Americans who are enrolled members of a state or federally recognized tribe could become citizens of a 51st virtual state, Charles explained, they could have a greater political voice. “That would be a mass of voters that candidates can’t ignore,” he said.

More Info may be found on his blog
Reflections from the hogan

While this might be only a pipe dream it maybe the only way to unify the disenfranchised Native peoples... A long way from what one would call a movment the seed has been planted, only time will tell if it bares fruit?

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 09:34 AM
reply to post by DaddyBare i've had to delete 3 post's so far. when i think of how the american indian is treated (i've seen it), i have to sign off and take a few deep breaths.

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 09:52 AM
reply to post by DaddyBare

I'm sure people are going to think that I'm a racist bigot or something, but, maybe some Native Americans could run for politcal offices and then they'd have a vote, or at least their voice would be heard. I'm sure that living in isolated resevervations doesn't help them to much either--isolating oneself from the rest of a society, even if your culture is different, doesn't help things much. You can always keep your culture but not remain isolated. The Turkish here in Germany do this everyday.

I don't think this idea of a 51st "virtual state" would fly either. Let's say the idea went through and I was part of the Navajo tribe and resided in California. To whom would I pay my taxes to? I'm sure California wouldn't be happy because they'd be missing out on tax revenue. I think the idea treads even closer, than we are now, to the Natives having their own country--which is prohibited by the Constitution.

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 09:58 AM
reply to post by echodogene

Charles admitted to the audience that he wasn’t going to pretend he knew exactly how this idea for a 51st virtual state might be implemented in all its detail. “I’m more trying to present to you a vision and a picture,” he said.

He offered three different options for the possible creation of the Native American state, and he conceded that there are a number of obstacles that would have to be overcome, including the probable need for amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

But....Comparing the total Native population to the population of Iowa, which has seven electoral votes, Charles said having one large virtual Native American state with a block of electoral votes would “radically change the political landscape” in the United States. Charles believes it would make political candidates devote more serious attention to Native American interests like treaty obligations, land issues, and tribal sovereignty.

As I said this just a seed with the promise of a beautiful flower... As you pointed out there have been a good many wrongs done to Native peoples in the past and this idea might force the US government to pause and really listen...

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 10:09 AM
reply to post by octotom

I wouldnt call you a racist or bigot I would simply say that due to where you live you are unaware of the problems... See unlike the Afro-Americans there are still places in my country where we Red Skins are not welcome. I've taken my wife kids ... and now granddaughter out shopping only to find the security guards hounding our every step...

To give you some idea of what life was like for me as a child Please read this From Amnesty International Things are better now but as a race were to fractured to become a political power.... Strangers in our own land as it were

[edit on 11-4-2009 by DaddyBare]

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 10:36 AM
Hm. It's sad to hear that it's like that out west. I grew up in South Florida [I'm an American y the way
] and all the Seminoles that I ever encountered never had anything to say about not being welcomed in some places. That's astonishing to me and completely and utterly ridiculous that you'd be treated that way.

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 10:43 AM
Being a full blooded Indian myself I think its ridiculous to think that any American Indian would run for a government office. For one, we have our own independent tribal governments, secondly, our lives on reservations are rarely impacted by who is in office and third, we don't want to participate in the government that tried to annilate us. Most of us live at or below poverty levels on reservations and it has always been that way and we have always survived and made our lives good. Rather than creating a virtual 51st state for policital relevance I think it would be better to focus on how to accomplish complete self sufficiency relating the food and energy independence. The less fed government interaction the better.

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 11:09 AM
More power to them. Nothing wrong with creating a virtual "51st" state. I mean black americans have been trying since the 1776 for equal representation and political clout only to have various laws passed to specifically prevent them from engaging in this so called democratic process no to mention jerrymandering. Times have changed its 2009 and black folks are still playing catch up in politics due to racist laws passed by the all white majority back in the day and if you don't believe it read up on some good ol black american history.

But i'm kinda like the poster ahead of me..when i think of the treatment they got, i gotta fall back cuz its wrong and no justice..even the jews got Israel back (was never theirs from the jump).

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 12:08 PM
I totally support the creation of a Navajo state in the Four Corners region.

posted on Apr, 17 2009 @ 05:47 PM
reply to post by DaddyBare as was already said most indains want to be left alone and have there own type of governing. it would be hard to convince all the tribes to join together in this. but yes they could make a difference in the electorial vote, if it wasn't rigged, which i think it is. after all these years could they trust the "white man" again? i know those wars were a long time ago and back here in the east the american indian is respected, at least where i live. but when i was in nebraska i seen alot of racism. so, back to your thread, yes it would make a difference

posted on Apr, 26 2009 @ 07:00 PM
reply to post by DaddyBare

Very interesting article and idea in terms of unifying the Native American vote. It seems quite standard historically and also in the present for our governments (Canada and USA) to try and divide all Indian/First Nations, that way the voice is silenced or at least made a bit quieter. In terms of Native people of North America many of the issues are shared despite the vast and varied landscapes we inhabit. Having a way to unite the voice and give it power could be a way to make positive change in our communities.

Octo, when it comes to reservations they can be viewed as the last bits of land that are truly ours and to leave them is to be assimilated. Considering both Canadian and American governments set out on a path (and are still following it in many ways) to eradicate Indian/Native cultures and peoples, why should we abandon the reserves? It'd be like giving in. We need to find a way to make what is there better and also to have the governments live up to their treatys and other promises to us as sovereign nations. After all, in many cases the only reason there are reserves is because of said treatys.

posted on Apr, 27 2009 @ 11:24 AM
that's quite interesting. i do feel that native american culture should have some kind of revival.

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