“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,” Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye said.
The head of the Navajo Nation said his people are still facing prejudices after President Donald Trump referenced his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, “Pocahontas,” during an event honoring Navajo code talkers.
Begaye was in the Oval Office when Trump made the comment.
Trump hosted the Native American code talkers, who used their native language to help protect communications during World War I and II.
“It was our code talkers that ensured the freedom of the United States and that’s what is important to remember here,” Begaye said.
Trump acknowledged their history before using the comment.
“I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said. “Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time … longer than you — they call her Pocahontas!”
“It was our Code Talkers that ensured the freedom of the United States and that’s what is important to remember here,” Begaye said.
“We honor the contributions of Pocahontas, a hero to her people, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe in Virginia, who reached across uncertain boundaries and brought people together. Once again, we call upon the President to refrain from using her name in a way that denigrates her legacy.” —Jefferson Keel, lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation and president of the National Congress of American Indians, which asked Trump to stop describing Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas
“The reference is using a historic American Indian figure as a derogatory insult and that’s insulting to all American Indians.” —John Norwood, general secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes