Suzan Shown Harjo: Delete 'off the reservation' from our discourse

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in Kentucky. Photo from Facebook

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is facing criticism for her use of the term "off the reservation" in a recent interview. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Suzan Shown Harjo delves into the hurtful origins of the phrase:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton caused eyebrows to raise, heads to jerk, eyes to roll and political opponents to lick their chops, when she used “off the reservation” in an April 29 CNN interview: “I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak.”

Making a point about unnamed men, but perhaps including Candidate Donald Trump accusing her of “playing the woman card,” Clinton said, “I’m not going to deal with their temper tantrums or their bullying or their efforts to try to provoke me.”

But because she sideswiped Native Peoples along the way, she undercut her intended point, upset Native supporters and opponents alike and gave her detractors a spotlight they hadn’t earned.

Campaigners for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders immediately jumped on the “terrible statement.”

A Sanders surrogate, Former State Senator Nina Turner (D-OH), said, “As a historian, I would caution any of us in this country to talk about anybody being off the reservation. Let us not forget that the colonists of this country stole the land from our Native American brothers and sisters, and the government put them on reservations. So, we have to be careful with that type of language as well.”

Even Trump, who bellows his distaste for what he imagines is Clinton’s “shouting,” jumped in with all four feet. No stranger to insulting Native Peoples, only deliberately so in his case, he told a Fox News panel that the term she used is a “horrible expression” and ”demeaning remark.”

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Suzan Shown Harjo: ‘Off the Reservation’ – A Teachable Moment (Indian Country Today 5/3)

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