A man who is known as "Michael the Black Guy" has emerged as one of President Donald Trump's most bizarre supporters. Still image: tahj9000
National | Politics

Donald Trump supporter 'Michael the Black Man' offers odd views on Cherokee Nation and slavery

A fervent supporter of President Donald Trump who is known as “Michael the Black Man” is drawing attention on social media and in news outlets for his bizarre and unfounded claims about the origins of slavery in America.

In an interview with Big John & Ramblin' Ray on Wednesday morning, Maurice Symonette blamed the Cherokee Nation for initiating the African slave trade. He said most tribal citizens -- including Chief Bill John Baker -- are "white people" yet went on to claim that Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a former two-term chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs -- is a "full-blooded" Cherokee.

"The Cherokee Indians had money and they were the only ones able to even really afford slaves, and almost all of them were the ones that had slaves, and all the slave states were states where reservations were located,” Symonette, who also goes by various other names, told the two radio hosts.

But that wasn't even Symonette's most outlandish claim. He said the Ku Klux Klan was founded by Cherokees, bringing up one particular leader of the White supremacist group whose claims of Cherokee ancestry have been thoroughly debunked.

According to Symonette, the KKK's characteristic hoods look "like tents because they were indicating that those are tepees and that they were hiding under it.”

Tepees did not originate among the Cherokee people, whose homes were typically built out of mud, bark and other materials found in their original homelands in the southeastern United States.

"The Cherokee never lived in tipis," reads the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in North Carolina, where the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is based.

The Cherokee Nation, a separately recognized tribe, has historical connections to slavery. Some citizens even brought their slaves on the Trail of Tears, when they were forced to move to present-day Oklahoma by the United States.

The tribe abolished slavery following the Civil War and signed a treaty in 1866 requiring former slaves, also known as Freedmen, to be treated as equals. Some within the tribe, however, continue to dispute whether Freedmen descendants are entitled to citizenship.

Symonette's views, espoused on a website called honestfact.com, are gaining scrutiny because of his support for Trump. He was seated directly behind the president at a rally in Arizona on Tuesday evening and was holding a "Blacks for Trump" sign throughout the event.

Big John & Ramblin' Ray of WLS-AM wondered how Symonette got so close to the president and asked if he had been "placed" there by the Trump team. Symonette insisted that he got to the spot on his own, after being one of the first in line for the rally in downtown Phoenix.

"There's your White House," one of the hosts responded, questioning the wisdom of the president being associated with someone who admitted on air that he once belonged to a group labeled as "violent" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Symonette has been seen at other Trump rallies, including one in October 2016 where he attracted the then-candidate's attention, New York Magazine reported. "Blacks for Trump. You watch. You watch," he said at the time.

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