National | Politics

Navajo veteran who once worked for Donald Trump praises Republican presidential nominee






Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Navajo Republican Rally November 4, 2016

A member of the Navajo Nation who once worked for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump offered nothing but praise for the controversial candidate at a rally on the reservation on Friday.

Berinda Deluca-Rininger moved to New York City after serving four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Despite her lack of experience in the business world, she landed a job with the real estate mogul.

"When I showed up at his organization, the only experience I had was my Marine Corps military experience and my Shiprock High School diploma," she said, referring to a public school on the New Mexico portion of the reservation. "But he saw something in me and he said, 'You know what, I'll hire you.'"

Deluca-Rininger starting working for Trump after he made his controversial comments about tribes and Indian gaming. As a result, she said she was often asked about his "racism towards Native Americans."

"I didn't understand what they were talking about," she recalled. "Because he never treated me any differently. He didn't look down on me. He didn't talk down to me."

"Instead, he taught me," she said. "He taught me the importance of attention to detail, the importance of loyalty, the importance of business etiquette."

She quickly added: "No he doesn't treat women badly -- at least he didn't treat me badly."

Deluca-Rininger spoke toward the end of a small but crowded rally that was held inside the Shiprock Chapter House on the reservation. She wasn't the biggest name at the event -- Donald Trump Jr. was the main draw -- but she offered at times an even more personal account than the nominee's son.

"I've seen this man day in and day out and I know he's a man of his word," she said. "I know if he makes a mistake, he'll never make that mistake again."


Donald Trump Jr. on Instagram: "Speaking to amazing members of The Navajo Nation at a rally for #trump in Shiprock, New Mexico this evening"

Trump Jr. spoke for about 20 minutes. Although he was extremely grateful for the support shown for his father on the reservation, he did not talk about any tribal issues.

He used the word "sovereignty" at least once but did not elaborate on what it means to the candidate. He also didn't discuss what Trump would do for Indian Country if he wins the election on November 8.

Despite the warm welcome for candidate's son, other tribal citizens were out in force to express their distaste for the man on top the Republican ticket. Many chanted "Dooda Trump" or "No Trump" in Navajo outside.

New Mexico Democratic Party also went to Shiprock to speak out against Trump. Debra Haaland of Laguna Pueblo is the first Native woman to serve as chair of the party.

"I'm a little confused as to why Donald Jr. is going to Shiprock today," she wrote on Facebook earlier on Friday, including the link to Trump's 1993 testimony about tribes and Indian gaming.

"I wonder if he knows his dad has disparaged Indians openly and for many years," Haaland wrote.

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