Trump's use of Pocahontas slur condemned as 'insult for political gain' by America's largest indigenous rights group

President has been using name as an insult since 2014

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 28 August 2019 21:36 BST
Trump on Elizabeth Warren: I should have saved the Pocahontas thing for another year'

Donald Trump’s repeated use of the name “Pocahontas” as part of an attack on Democrat Elizabeth Warren has been condemned as “an insult for political gain”, by the country’s largest indigenous rights groups.

The president started using the name in a way many find offensive, even before he was elected to the Oval Office. He has continued to do so since becoming president, despite claims it is racist.

On Wednesday, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which describes itself as the oldest and largest indigenous rights organisation in the US, formally criticised Mr Trump, saying his actions were part of a long tradition of insults endured by Native Americans and other indigenous groups.

“For centuries Native people have endured such slurs – from ‘R*dskins’ to ‘Injuns’ to ‘savages’ – that the forces of racism and intolerance deploy to dehumanise our people, mock our cultures, and interfere with our inherent right to control our own lands and destinies,” said NCAI CEO Kevin Allis.

He added: “Not only does it disrespect Pocahontas’ legacy and life, it likens her name to a slur.”

The Hill, which was the first to report the statement, pointed out Mr Trump has repeatedly frequently referred to Ms Warren, who is running second or third among Democrats seeking to challenge him next year, as “Pocahontas”, seizing on the 2020 candidate’s previous claim of Native American heritage.

Last year, a test taken by the 70-year-old found she was between 1/64th and 1/1028th Native American and she has since apologised for the confusion triggered when she identified herself as such.

Mr Trump has continued to use the name as a slur, in the belief it is the sort of thing his supporters can enthusiastically catch on to, much as they did with his phrase “Crooked Hillary”, for his 2016 presidential opponent.

Elizabeth Warren apologises at the Native American Presidential Forum

At a rally earlier this month in Manchester, New Hampshire, Mr Trump mused to the crowd he may have been too fast to give up using the name, but said he could easily return to it.

“I did the Pocahontas thing. I hit her really hard, and it looked like she was down and out, but that was too long ago,” Mr Trump said. “I should have waited. But don’t worry, we will revive it. It can be revived. It will be revived. And it can be revived very easily, and very quickly, and we’re gonna have some fun in the state of New Hampshire.”

In his statement, Mr Allis said the president’s comments “dismiss our rightful place as this country’s First Americans, and ignore the immense contributions that tribal nations and peoples have made and continue to make”.

He added: “Silence in the face of such divisive behaviour and degrading rhetoric is complicity. We call on all Americans to denounce the continued use of such terms and the sentiments they express.”

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