The use of cultural figure Pocahontas was once again used as a racial slur on Monday (Nov. 27), when President Donald Trump made remarks in front of Native American war veterans at the White House.
The war heroes acted as code talkers during World War II, Mediate reports. As the cameras flashed during the ceremony, Trump attempted to say nice things about the men but felt inclined to make a joke about Senator Elizabeth Warren. For years, Trump has mocked her Indigenous lineage, suggesting that the politician has lied about her Native American background to advance her career.
He’s also called her Pocahontas because, ignorance.
Despite DNA tests that proved otherwise, Trump used the opportunity to make another racially insensitive joke.
“You’re very, very special people — you were here long before any of us were here,” the president said. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
To make matters worse, the war heroes are from the Navajo (Dine) tribe, while Pocahontas was from the Pamunkey tribe. The Pamunkey tribe wasn’t recognized by the U.S. until 2015, making the moment even more offensive to all tribes.
Since Trump’s dive into politics, the National Congress of American Indians released a statement condemning the use of Pocahontas’ name as a racial slur. They’ve also passively asked for Trump to stop using her name as such. “We cannot and will not stand silent when our Native ancestors, cultures, and histories are used in a derogatory manner for political gain,” NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata said in May.
”Pocahontas is a “well-known historical Native figure” that has been turned into a derogatory term. As ICMN has reported in a variety of pieces, Pocahontas was a real person with her own story in history that was a “tale of tragedy and heartbreak.” And for that reason “the name of Pocahontas should not be used as a slur.”
“With the election long over, we hoped that President Trump would refrain from using this name as a pejorative term and other such terms that insult Native peoples and degrade their cultures in order to score political points,” NCAI President Brian Cladoosby added. “We hope that this was but a momentary slip-up, and that it is not indicative of how this Administration intends to treat and work with Indian Country moving forward.”
Warren slammed the president shortly after the footage of the event was released.
“This was supposed to be an event to honor heroes, people who put it all on the line for our country, who, because of their incredible work, saved the lives of countless Americans and our allies,” Warren said to MSNBC. “It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also commented on Trump’s actions.
NBC's Kristen Welker on Trump's 'Pocahontas' remark: "Why is it appropriate for the president use a racial slur in any context?"
Sanders: "I don't believe it is appropriate for him to make a racial slur or anybody else." (via CBS) pic.twitter.com/4Ms4YnqMhi
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 27, 2017
This isn’t the first time Trump has used racist undertones towards Native Americans. In the 90’s, Trump claimed he needed proof of “Indian blood” to determine if Native Americans should own reservations or business.
Trump has yet to comment on his remarks.