Trump gets blowback for his ‘Pocahontas’ jab at Navajo event
Families of Native American war veterans and politicians of both major parties are criticizing President Donald Trump for using a White House event honoring Navajo Code Talkers to take a political jab at a Democratic senator he has nicknamed “Pocahontas.”
The Republican president Monday turned to a nickname he often deployed for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren during the 2016 presidential campaign to mock her claims about being part Native American. He told the three Navajo Code Talkers on stage that he had affection for them that he doesn’t have for her.
“It was uncalled for,” said Marty Thompson, whose great-uncle was a Navajo Code Talker. “He can say what he wants when he’s out doing his presidential business among his people, but when it comes to honoring veterans or any kind of people, he needs to grow up and quit saying things like that.”
Pocahontas is a well-known historical figure who bridged her own Pamunkey Tribe in present-day Virginia with the British in the 1600s. But the National Congress of American Indians says Trump wrongly has flipped the name into a derogatory term, and the comment drew swift criticism from American Indians and politicians.
“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Navajo Code Talkers, whose bravery, skill & tenacity helped secure our decisive victory over tyranny & oppression during WWII,” Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, tweeted Tuesday. “Politicizing these genuine American heroes is an insult to their sacrifice.”
Warren said Trump’s repeated references to her as “Pocahontas” will not keep her from speaking out.