Native American Leaders Issue Statement in Response to Trump’s ‘Racist’ Remarks
On Monday, during an event honoring Native American veterans at the White House, President Trump offended many when he casually referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as “Pocahontas.” Because there is a somber history between colonizers and those who are native to North America, the remark has been deemed “racist” by tribal leaders.
Trump told the veterans: “You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
After cracking the joke, Trump turned to one of the Navajo code talkers, who served in WWII, and said: “But you know what? I like you. Because you are special. You are special people, you are really incredible people.”
The reason the “Pocahontas” statement was deemed so offensive is that Trump used it during the 2016 campaign to attack Warren. Additionally, some of his crowds at previous rallies mimicked Native American war cries.
Credit: Global News
The President of the United States and Warren will settle their differences. However, the tribal leaders say they cannot ignore the offense that was made shortly after Thanksgiving. John Norwood, general secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, said the nickname “smacks of racism.” He added, “The reference is using a historic American Indian figure as a derogatory insult and that’s insulting to all American Indians.”
Norwood explained that its use was particularly bad in the context of the recent event, and said that the president should “stop using our historical people of significance as a racial slur against one of his opponents.”
The National Congress of American Indians, the largest and perhaps most well-known group for Native American tribes, also criticized the President of the United States. They said the event was intended to honor “code talkers” — Native Americans who were recruited by the Marines to communicate during WWII.
“We regret that the president’s use of the name Pocahontas as a slur to insult a political adversary is overshadowing the true purpose of today’s White House ceremony,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel, who is also a veteran. “Today was about recognizing the remarkable courage and invaluable contributions of our Native code talkers.”
In response to the bombardment of criticism, the White House said judging Trump’s Pocahontas remark as racist is “ridiculous.” Said White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “What most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career.”
Not all are taking sides, however. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye made it clear in a statement that his focus is on honoring the code talkers. “It was our code talkers that ensured the freedom of the United States and that’s what’s important to remember here,” Begaye said. When interviewed by NBC News, Begaye described the president as “very cordial and very nice to recognize the Navajo.”
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Source: NBC News