The Navajo Nation issued a statement in response to President Trump’s usage of the racial slur “Pocahontas” to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during a White House event honoring Native American veterans a day earlier.
During the event honoring three Navajos who helped the U.S. Marine Corps develop a secret code during WWII, Trump said: “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,” he added.
Pres. Trump at event honoring Native American code talkers: "We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas." https://t.co/BnGk3GW3cy pic.twitter.com/SOGoXEIT6d
— ABC News (@ABC) November 27, 2017
“First and foremost, we appreciate the honor and recognition that has been bestowed upon the Navajo Code Talkers, who truly are National Treasures and protectors of freedom,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said. “In this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy.”
“As Native Americans, we are proud people who have taken care of this land long before there was the United States of America and we will continue to fight for this Nation,” he added.
“It was our Code Talkers that ensured the freedom of the United States and that’s what is important to remember here.”
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty called Trump’s “careless” comment the “latest example of systemic, deep-seated ignorance of Native Americans and our intrinsic right to exist and practice our ways of life.”
“The reference is using a historic American Indian figure as a derogatory insult and that’s an insult to all American Indians,” said John Norwood, the general secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes.
Norwood said Trump should “stop using our historical people of significance as a racial slur against one of his opponents.”
Families of Navajo war veterans who were honored Monday told ABC News that they were dumbfounded that the president used the event to take a political jab at a Massachusetts senator.
“It was uncalled for,” said Marty Thompson, whose great uncle was a Navajo code talker. “He can say what he wants when he’s out doing his presidential business among his people, but when it comes to honoring veterans or any kind of people, he needs to grow up and quit saying things like that.”
Sen. John McCain also slammed Trump’s offensive remarks, tweeting: “Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Navajo Code Talkers, whose bravery, skill & tenacity helped secure our decisive victory over tyranny & oppression during WWII. Politicizing these genuine American heroes is an insult to their sacrifice.”