On Thursday, Donald Trump, flanked by enthusiastic brown noser Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who pushed for legislation that makes it more difficult for Natives to vote and threatened to “wring Tribal council’s necks” while making Native women cry at a state gathering on domestic violence a few years ago, appeared in Bismarck, North Dakota.
During a press conference, he couldn’t resist tearing into Senator Elizabeth Warren, once again referring to her as “Pocahontas.”
For those of you who aren’t Twitter savvy, the Donald and Senator Warren have been engaged in a Twitter War for the past month.
Few of her position and stature have had the courage to stand up to Trump. For this reason, Senator Warren is being singled out for ridicule.
Donald questions Senator Warren’s bloodlines, but whether or not she is actually Native is besides the point. The fact that the mere possibility that she may possess Native ancestry makes her a target for racial attack by Trump says everything we need to know about him.
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump isn’t calling Senator Warren “Pocahontas” to honor her. He is using it in a derogatory manner, to belittle and insult her. This is what he thinks of Native people and women in general. Such statements are not only arrogant, they’re misogynistic and racially charged.
Contrary to Hollywood lore and textbook mythology, Pocahontas wasn’t a buxom NDN Princess built for sex who couldn’t wait to help the white man defeat her brutish Tribesman. Pocahontas was a little girl who first met John Smith around age 11. She was kidnapped, held hostage, imprisoned, and raped by European invaders who only released her when she agreed to marry one of her English captors. She was then promptly carted off to Europe as an example of what successful colonization could look like. She fell ill soon after and died far from her traditional homelands at the age of 21. Pocahontas is not a stripper name or a Halloween costume. She is Exhibit A in the case that would hold the United States and its founders guilty of Indigenous genocide.
Trump shows us time and again that he has no respect for women, and by continuing to use the term “Pocahontas” as a racial slur, he is showing us his particular distain for Native people and women, especially. Because of stereotypes like the Pocahottie that fetishize and hypersexualize Native women, we continue to be preyed upon by non-Natives who see us as exotic objects meant purely for sexual gratification. There is a 1 in 3 likelihood that a Native woman will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Through Native provisions in the Violence Against Women Act, tribes are working to close loopholes that allow non-Native men to escape legal prosecution for beating and raping Native women on tribal lands. Canada’s First Nations are in the midst of an epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, a systemic problem that is finally getting the long overdue attention it deserves.
In spite of all of this, Donald Trump came to North Dakota, the homelands of Sitting Bull, where Native people are the largest minority in the state, and spat in our faces. He owes us all a sincere apology, but I’m not holding my breath. Trump has spent his campaign insulting everybody, including veterans and the disabled.
As far as Elizabeth Warren is concerned, I couldn’t care less whether she possesses the blood quantum necessary for tribal enrollment. She is counting coup on Donald Trump and calling him out like only a strong Native woman can. Hell, if she’s not Native, I might hunka (adopt) her.
While in North Dakota, Trump secured 1,237 delegates, enough to garner the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Let that sink in. Donald Trump is so racist, that like flies to buffalo dung, white supremacists and the KKK flock to endorse him. This man, who doesn’t have enough self-control to hold his tongue for two seconds, could be in charge of nuclear weapons. Donald Trump, who never explains how or why on anything, has promised to use eminent domain to force pipelines like Keystone XL through tribal lands. He has said he would eliminate minimum wage. Native communities are already impoverished. You can bet that tribal funding will be cut under a Trump administration and trust responsibility will fall by the wayside as well. Not to mention, he talks out of both sides of his mouth and flips on a dime. The litany of disastrous policies he would put forth goes on and on. Do we really want the country to be another bullet on Donald’s list of failures? I’m Rez born and raised and I know a con when I see one. We’ve seen his kind before. Those who come to kill and destroy. Weaklings and cowards who fight with women. Trump is just another incarnation of George Armstrong Custer, and we got your Crazy Horse.
Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton Wahpeton & Mdewakanton Dakota, Hunkpapa Lakota) is a writer, blogger, biologist, activist and judge.