MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD., November 27, 2017 – In one of the most bizarre moments so far in President Trump’s administration, he turned an homage to Code Talkers into a multifaceted insult to Native Americans.
In his typical, poorly phrased address he went off script and as usual turned an already charged moment into a cheap shot at Senator Elizabeth Warren. Using the same nickname that he has addressed her since his early campaign, he said
“Although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
While he was technically correct when describing Ms. Warren as a representative of Congress, most people would have addressed her as a Senator.
President Andrew Jackson – a contemporaneous insult
While this tirade has been a source of criticism for Trump, the venue of the ceremony could not have been worse. The award was presented in front of the portrait of Andrew Jackson.
For anyone that has knowledge of US history, Andrew Jackson was the worst enemy Native Americans have had. To many Andrew Jackson is to Native Americans as Hitler was to the Jews. This is because he was the promoter, ultimate signer, and implementer of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This act authorized president Jackson to negotiate the relocation of tribes East of the Mississippi to lands in the West.
Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears
Jackson justified the removal as progress. He stated among other justifications, “What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic,…”
This de facto expulsion of Native Americans was carried out either by heavily one-sided treaties or by force. Some tribes like the Seminoles resisted and more than 3,000 were killed. Those that moved died by the tens of thousands as has been documented in the “Trail of Tears”.
As Native Americans were moved to their new reservations in the West, they faced poor farmland, dessert-like environs, much colder climate and the “benign” oversight of the Federal Government. For their “protection” they were kept inside reservations that did not have the resources for survival.
Assistance by the Federal Government came in the form of handouts managed by, in many cases, corrupt administrators. Supplies were diverted and sold on the black market and Native Americans were left to starve and freeze to death in their new domains.
Disease ran unchecked in some reservations smallpox claimed many lives. Some claims of contaminated blankets being intentionally sent to reservations appear to have no foundation; however, inaction by the Federal Government caused the death of thousands from this disease.
The hate for Jackson is such that many Native Americans avoid handling $20 dollar bills (as does the author).
So, the question is why would an award to Native Americans for their heroism in World War II be given in front of the one person that is almost unanimously blamed for the genocide in the Trail of Tears?
Populist Presidents – Andrew Jackson to Donald Trump
For one thing, President Trump identifies with Andrew Jackson as they both can be considered “populist”. While the president has had ample education, his speeches show a lack of sophistication, which was the case with Andrew Jackson’s. Trump ordered the portrait of Jackson to be put in the chamber were awards are given early in his presidency.
An eagle-eyed staffer should have had it removed for this event. Or the event location changed.
The other possible contributor to this gaffe must be ignorance and insensitivity. There has been in evidence since Trump took office, and his supporters applaud his “straight talk” and lack of “Political Correctness”.
However, others would say that this was done on purpose to show Trump and his supporters’ belief of the dominance of White Europeans over Native Americans.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is about 15% Native American and a supporter. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).