A flag reading "Resistance is Patriotic" i seen at a protest against President Donald Trump's remarks on immigration. Photo: Andrew Dallos
Opinion | Politics

Doug George-Kanentiio: Native people are no stranger to Trump's ethnic slurs




Trump's Comments About Haiti and Africa Ignores His Own History

By Doug George-Kanentiio

On January 11 it was reported that President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and the African nations as s***holes from which the people were desperate to escape to the United States. The remarks were affirmed by a number of U.S. politicians who were at a meeting inside the White House to discuss federal immigration policies, the most cited of which is the building of a security wall along the Mexican border which, Trump has vowed, will be paid for by the Mexico.

His disparaging remarks about countries which have largely black residents has been condemned across the planet as contrary to the nation's history of welcoming refugees. Yet no national media outlet has contacted indigenous leaders or commentators to inquire as to their thoughts about immigration and the use of blatantly racist remarks by Trump. Natives are no stranger to Trump's ethnic slurs from his use of the Pocahontas name to attack Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to his efforts to undermine Native gambling initiatives.

Trump also conveniently remains ignorant of U.S. immigration history including that of his own family. His grandfather Friedrich Trump was the son of a winemaker and trained as a barber. Born in the Palatine region of southwestern Germany in 1869. Like his grandson he avoided compulsory military service which was then a criminal act. He fled to New York where he worked as a barber before heading west to make his fortune operating restaurants and hotels which were also bordellos. He then went to Alaska and the Yukon Territory where he expanded his business of prostitution and meals until he faced arrest by the U.S. and Canadian authorities. Trump was able to take his profits and began investing in property in New York before dying of the Spanish flu in 1918.

According to the standards of the laws of that era, and now, Trump should have been denied entry into the U.S. as a draft dodger but he was able to secure American citizenship. He later returned to Germany, avoided arrest, and married a German woman named Elizabeth Christ. From that union Donald Trump's father, Fred, was born.

The reality that President Trump does not acknowledge is that much of Europe was a human cesspool equal to Haiti and Africa in the extent of exploitation and abuse. Millions of Europeans were either compelled to leave the continent as criminals or indentured servants. Others faced living conditions to terrible they were willing to risk weeks of being confined in disease plagued ships, breaking forever their familial bonds, for the glimmer of hope that life in America would somehow be better than what they left.

The notorious slums of London, the starving fields of Ireland, the pogroms of Russia, the urban refuse which was Paris, the religious prosecutions in Trump's homeland, the starvation in Italy-all were indicative of a Europe which was defined by violence, exploitation and depravity among the ruling classes. Life was brutal for the working class with high rates of child mortality, the qualification of women as chattel and the absolute rule by the church and "nobility". Freedom in its Native sense was alien and when the people sought liberation from the brutality of their lives the military was brought to bear resulting in the death of millions of human beings.

This is the European cesspool, the excrement of human existence. Those who arrived here had not only an enormous capacity for enduring the harshness of their conditions but also a burning desire to secure material security even if that meant the theft of Native lands and the slaughter of its indigenous inhabitants.

Those colonizers were unleashed on a people who were weakened by disease and caught unprepared by the viciousness of the settler's ambitions. In a reality where organized religion was a part of the ruling elite nothing was left to them but the desire to replace faith with physical wealth. Desperate in their living conditions when they arrived here with hunger at their heels the immigrants migrated westwards seeking freedom from the constraints of central governments and the ruling elite.

In this raw drive for wealth Friedrich Trump was no different, just luckier than most. His ancestors region was in a region known to our Mohawk people for it was the Palatine from which the first wave of German refugees came in 1711 onward, invited by our ancestors to live on the eastern borders of our lands in exchange for providing us with the technological skills we needed and to serve as a buffer between the Iroquois and the land obsessed British.

We did not know of the Trump family but surely some of their distant relatives settled among the Mohawks.

Certainly, Europe was a pit of excrement for millions of human beings. If not, why would they leave? And one other fact-the cities of that continent were marked by an all encompassing stench which clung to the colonials and caused the Mohawks to turn away in disgust. That is the ugly truth the U.S media conveniently ignores, the hole from which Trump has emerged.

Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the vice-president of the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge. He has served as a Trustee for the National Museum of the American Indian, is a former land claims negotiator for the Mohawk Nation and is the author of numerous books and articles about the Mohawk people. He may be reached via e-mail at: Kanentiio@aol.com or by calling 315-415-7288.

Related Stories:
Tim Giago: Indian Country in danger as long as Donald Trump remains in office (January 15, 2018)
Lornet Turnbull: President Trump again plays to his base with racist comments (January 15, 2018)