Native American groups Monday were critical of President Donald Trump for using a ceremony to honor World War II Navajo "Code Talkers" to take a slam at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
"All tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people," Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy."
"You were here long before any of us were here," Trump told the World War II vets, who used their native language to send American signals that the Japanese could not decipher. "Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her 'Pocahontas.'"
Trump has often referred to Warren, a liberal foe, by the name of the famed Native American princess credited with saving the life of Englishman John Smith. The use as a perforative was previously used by others as "Faux-cahontas" because Warren has claimed Native American ancestry in the past, though she has never offered proof when challenged.
Other Native Americans were critical of Trump's latest use of the name, with John Norwood, general secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, saying it "smacks of racism."
"The reference is using a historic American Indian figure as a derogatory insult and that's insulting to all American Indians," he told NBC News, adding Trump should "stop using our historical people of significance as a racial slur against one of his opponents."
Likewise, the National Congress of American Indians said: "We regret that the president's use of the name Pocahontas as a slur to insult a political adversary is overshadowing the true purpose of today's White House ceremony. Today was about recognizing the remarkable courage and invaluable contributions of our Native code talkers."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied the name was intended as an ethnic slur, saying Warren's claim that it was is "a ridiculous response."
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