President Donald J. Trump boards Marine One on December 2, 2017. Photo: Shealah Craighead / White House

Sierra Teller Ornelas: Donald Trump doesn't have what it takes to be a true Navajo

President Donald Trump made history by inviting Navajo Code Talkers into the Oval Office for a ceremony at the White House last week yet what he said about a political rival dominated headlines instead. Like many in Indian Country, Sierra Teller Ornelas, a writer and citizen of the Navajo Nation, was bothered by the "Pocahontas" jab. But something else is also under her skin:
Last week, I watched our president interrupt a White House ceremony honoring the Navajo code talkers to degrade Senator Elizabeth Warren by referring to her as Pocahontas. In front of a painting of the signer of the Indian Removal Act himself, Andrew Jackson. Weeks deep into Native American Heritage month. It was like the worst game of Clue. The president disrespecting my elders, in the cellarium, with the tiki torch. I felt rage. More than usual, which is crazy, because since the election I pretty much use a steady supply of mozzarella sticks to soften my constant fury.

Since that ceremony, more than the disbelief — because of course he would do that — one thought keeps coming back to me. It is the root of my frustration: Donald Trump would make a terrible Navajo. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “We don’t know that. Forty-five might make a terrific Navajo.” Well, hear me out.

First, Navajos serve in the military. Not me, but a lot of us do. Native Americans enlist in the military at a higher per capita rate than any other racial demographic. Many of the code talkers even doctored their birth certificates so they could join early.

Navajos respect women. Precontact, my tribe was matrilineal. Women owned all the property and ran everything. Historically speaking, we were also cool with trans people and immigrants.

Navajos actually close deals. You think Donald Trump could sell a $300 hand drum to a nice woman from Minnesota whose husband is trying to drag her away? Because I did that when I was 9.

Read More on the Story:
Sierra Teller Ornelas: Donald Trump Would Make a Terrible Navajo (The New York Times December 2, 2017)

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