President Trump revives 'Pocahontas' insult in speech to gun group

Indianz.Com on YouTube: President Trump and Pocahontas

The nation's largest tribal advocacy group is condemning President Donald Trump for rehashing an anti-Indian slur.

Trump described Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) as "Pocahontas" during an address to the National Rifle Association on Friday. Members of the group, which was meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, laughed and applauded.

“I have a feeling that in the next election you’re going to be swamped with candidates, but you’re not going to be wasting your time,” Trump said on his 99th day in office, according to the transcript. “You’ll have plenty of those Democrats coming over and you’re going to say, no, sir, no thank you -- no, ma’am. Perhaps ma’am. It may be Pocahontas, remember that.”

“She is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you," Trump said in reference to Warren.

Trump frequently used “Pocahontas" as an insult during the presidential campaign last year in an attempt to deride Warren's claims of Indian ancestry. But now that he's leading the country, tribal advocates are expecting better.

“With the election long over, we hoped that President Trump would refrain from using this name as a pejorative term and other such terms that insult Native peoples and degrade their cultures in order to score political points,” National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said in a press release on Wednesday.

“We hope that this was but a momentary slip-up, and that it is not indicative of how this administration intends to treat and work with Indian Country moving forward,” Cladoosby added.

A statue of Pocahontas in Williamsburg, Virginia. Photo: Catherine

Yet Trump is no stranger to insults and stereotypes. During the 1990s, when his casino enterprise was facing competition from Indian Country, he questioned the legitimacy of tribes, tried to undermine their sovereign right to engage in gaming and attempted to link their activities to crime and drugs despite lacking any evidence.

“Well, you go up to Connecticut, and you look,” Trump told Congress in 1993 in one famous incident, specifically referring to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. “Now, they don't look like Indians to me.”

Trump hasn't changed his style much since taking office on January 20. He lashes out at critics -- Republicans, Democrats and foreign leaders alike -- in harsh tones, typically through missives on Twitter.

“NCAI is a bi-partisan organization that works equitably with both sides of the political aisle, and it is not our common practice to comment on the partisan name calling that has come to dominate American politics,” said Jacqueline Pata, the organization's executive director. “But we cannot and will not stand silent when our Native ancestors, cultures, and histories are used in a derogatory manner for political gain.”

The Pamunkey Tribe, the most recent to gain federal recognition, traces descent from Pocahontas. She is credited with ensuring the success of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in present-day Virginia.

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