The Common Good

'The Grandmother Locked In The Bedroom:' A Native American Perspective On History, Immigration, And Thanksgiving

Date: November 28, 2013

Among the millions of families celebrating Thanksgiving this week are many Native Americans who see it as a time to come together and give thanks, but some are reminding their fellow citizens that there is very little understanding of indigenous peoples' history in the U.S., and that the path to reconciliation is still a long one to walk.

"It feels like our Native community is an old grandmother, who has a very large and very beautiful house. And years ago, some people came into our house, and locked us upstairs in the bedroom. Today, our house is full of people. They are sitting on our furniture, they are eating our food, they are having a party in our house. They've even come upstairs and unlocked the door to our bedroom, but it's much later, and we're tired, we're old, we're weak, we're sick, and so we can't, or we don't come out," reflects Mark Charles, a speaker and writer located on the Navajo Reservation in Fort Defiance, Ariz., in a video posted earlier this year titled "Being Native American in the US."

Charles, the son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man, is deeply involved in both Native American and Christian issues – he has worked on various projects with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, the Christian Reformed World Missions, Sojourners, Emerging Voices Project, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade; and he is a board member on the Christian Community Development Association and the Christian Reformed Church of North America.