Fort Defiance, Ariz., man wants greater political voice for nation’s 500-plus Indian tribes.
Mark Charles — a speaker, writer, computer programmer, minister and consultant on Native American issues — told a small group gathered at University of New Mexico-Gallup last week that he’d like members of the more than 500 Indian tribes across the United States to join in a “51st virtual state” for native peoples, the Gallup Independent reported.
The son of a Navajo father and a Dutch-American mother joked that he “grew up in a Dutch ghetto just off the Navajo Reservation” in the community of Rehoboth, according to the Independent.
A UCLA graduate who has lived on the Navajo Nation for the past five years and currently lives in Fort Defiance, Ariz., Charles told the group that he came up with the idea of a “virtual” state for Native Americans after living for three years with his family in a traditional hogan in Cross Canyon, Ariz., the Independent said.
He also gave a lot of thought to the last two presidential elections and why Native Americans don’t have a seat at America’s political table, the paper reported.
“How come I never hear a candidate talk about the Native American vote?” Charles asked the group, then answered by saying that although there are more than 500 Native American tribes across the United States, the population of each tribe is so small that their political voice is not heard, the Independent said.
Even the Navajo Nation, with its large population, isn’t a strong political bloc, because its voter power is split among New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, Charles said.
But forming a “virtual” state with a total population about the size of Iowa’s (with its seven electoral votes), Native Americans would “radically change the political landscape” of the United States, Charles told the group.
“I’m more trying to present you a vision and a picture,” he told the audience, saying he didn’t know in detail how such a state would be implemented and acknowledged there would be many obstacles to overcome, the Independent said.
For more on the idea, you can go to Charles’ Web site at http://wirelesshogan.blogspot.com.