Trump crossed a line when he invoked Pocahontas and Wounded Knee to make a petty political attack.
Native American tribes are slamming Trump for making a racist, exploitative reference to Pocahontas and the Wounded Knee Massacre just to lob a cheap political attack on Twitter.
Trump, as part of his ongoing campaign of petty insults against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), responded to a video stream she posted by writing, "If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!"
Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold C. Frazier released a statement skewering Trump for having "once again taken a racist jab" that was deeply insulting to Native Americans on a number of levels.
By using "Pocahontas" as a dismissive nickname for a political opponent, Frazier said, Trump is "exploiting native women as an insult for political machismo." Pocahontas was a "victim of European colonialism," Frazier pointed out, and "to use her name in that manner is disgusting and reflective of the President of the United States' ignorance."
Frazier also reminded Trump that the Wounded Knee Massacre is nothing to joke about.
"It is an incident in which soldiers of the United States hunted down and murdered hundreds of Lakota men, women and children in the middle of winter," Frazier wrote. The killing was "the sum of white hatred, bigotry and racism," he added, which Trump trivialized by making it the punchline of a weak political attack.
Frazier concluded, "The President of the United States has once again utilized racism and ignorance to attack the natives of this land. I will not remain silent when the Lakota people and our accomplishments are used in this manner."
The National Congress of American Indians similarly denounced Trump. President Jefferson Keel said in a statement, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the casual and callous use of these events as part of a political attack. Hundreds of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people lost their lives at the hands of the invading U.S. Army during these events, and their memories should not be desecrated as a rhetorical punch line."
Trump has a long, public history of denigrating and attacking Native Americans. In the Oval Office, he has simply continued that tradition with a much larger audience than he has ever had in the past. Even worse, his hateful rhetoric has been combined with policies that have done outsized harm to an already marginalized community.
Trump is a racist. He lives and breathes bigotry. He only cares about the torture and mass murder of Native people if he can use it as a sick punchline for his ineffective political attacks. This is who he has always been.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.