However, what Trump did was take the name of a real Indian person (whose history has already been distorted beyond recognition in popular culture) and transformed it into a racially bigoted epithet. This is plainly unacceptable and beneath the dignity of the office of the president. Trump’s language is not just offensive—it has real and tangible consequences on Indian people, including our youth. The American Psychological Association has identified that “ethnic minority children's academic and social development, self-esteem, and personal feelings of efficacy” can be negatively affected by racism. This is of great concern to us, as American Indians have the highest rate of suicide in Montana. Native Americans are living human beings with real names and histories. We are not caricatures and stereotypes. We are not props in popular media. We are not romanticized Disney film characters. Pocahontas was a real person with a real name.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) makes pledge at National Congress of American Indians #ECWS2018: "So I’m here today to make a promise: Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities." #NativeAmericans pic.twitter.com/9Z59ErMA6G— indianz.com (@indianz) February 14, 2018
Generations of Indian and non-Indian people have worked tirelessly to foster historical and cultural awareness in Montana. That’s why we ask our friends and colleagues to denounce racially bigoted language such as Trump’s. When Indians—especially Indian women—are used as props for a political agenda, call it out. It takes all of us to protect a baseline of common decency. Regardless of what we say in this letter, we know many Montanans will continue to support Trump. But such support does not require adopting Trump’s language, which does nothing more than place roadblocks in the community of ideas that Montanans have worked so hard to build. It is our belief that we can and should create a better example and a healthier community for future generations. The members of the Montana American Indian Caucus in the State Legislature are: Rep. Shane Morigeau, Sen. Lea Whitford, Rep. Bridget Smith, Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, Sen. Jason Small, Sen. Frank Smith, Rep. Rae Peppers, Rep. George Kipp III, and Rep. Susan Webber