'He knew what he was doing.' Navajo leaders blast Trump's racism at WWII ceremony


Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and actor Sonny Skyhawk have harsh words for Trump after his "Pocahontas" speech at a ceremony honoring World War II code talkers.

Donald Trump had a very simple job at the Navajo code talker ceremony: honor Native American World War II vets who risked their lives as "code talkers," relaying secret messages to U.S. forces in enemy territory.

Instead, he babbled about Sen. Elizabeth Warren and repeated his "Pocahontas" slur — in a room full of Native Americans.

Appearing on CNN’s "New Day," Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye laid into Trump for his cultural insensitivity, and for hijacking an event that was supposed to be about honoring the Navajo.

"This was a day when the code talkers were being honored," he said. "They’re war heroes. They helped — they put an end to the war. We are enjoying freedom today as it is because of their work, because of what they did, their sacrifices."

Begaye added that Trump's use of "Pocahontas" as a slur against Warren "doesn’t belong in the room when our war heroes are being honored" and called it "culturally insensitive."

Begaye does not consider it an innocent faux pas either. When asked whether he considered it to be a racial slur, Begaye said “I feel that the way it was used, yes it was.”

Native American actor Sonny Skyhawk agreed:

I thought the whole thing was staged. The fact that Andrew Jackson appeared in the back of the room ... Mr. Trump has been in television enough and he knows the staging, he knows how people are going to see. And I think it was a condescending racial slur that he delivered, unfortunately, at an inopportune time when these heroes were being honored. It’s uncalled for, totally uncalled for. And he knew what he was doing.

Asked whether Trump knows "the history of Andrew Jackson," whose portrait was in the background of the ceremony, Skyhawk said, "Of course he knows Andrew Jackson. I think Andrew Jackson is one of his heroes."

Trump clearly did not value the actual contributions of the code talkers — he just saw this ceremony as a cheap excuse to attack a political opponent. In doing so, he minimized Native Americans and their sacrifices, and proved once again he cares about nobody but himself.