Historical contributions of Native American Code Talkers is invaluable, cultural insensitivity is unfortunate

At event honoring Code Talkers, president insults Native Americans calling senator Pocahontas

President Donald Trump at event honoring Native American Code Talkers Nov. 27. Submitted photo

President Donald Trump at event honoring Native American Code Talkers Nov. 27. Submitted photo

WASHINGTON -- Today, during an event at the White House honoring Native American Code Talkers, President Donald Trump made reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas.

The remark prompted immediate backlash.

“First and foremost, we appreciate the honor and recognition that has been bestowed upon the Navajo Code Talkers, who truly are National Treasures and protectors of freedom,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.

The reference to Sen. Warren as Pocahontas is a part of an ongoing feud between the senator and Trump over statements Warren made about having Native American heritage during her Senate campaign.

“In this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people,” Begaye said. “The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy. As Native Americans, we are proud people who have taken care of this land long before there was the United States of America and we will continue to fight for this Nation.”

Begaye said the Navajo Nation does not want to engage in this dialogue between Warren and Trump.

The purpose of the day’s event was to honor all Native American Code Talkers who used their Native languages to encode sensitive messages and protect U.S. wartime communications in both World Wars I and II.

“It was our Code Talkers that ensured the freedom of the United States and that’s what is important to remember here,” Begaye said.


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Canyonram 1 year, 8 months ago

Those with courage and dignity carry that throughout life and are examples for all to admire and celebrate. Some with neither cannot or will not change who and what they are.

Bless our veterans for their courage in the face of the enemy. The meeting between the WWII heroes and Trump was to honor the Navajo veterans. Trump was incapable of that gesture and instead ridiculed those he was supposed to honor. Bless our veterans for their dignity in the presence of the small and evil man who is the current President.

For 100 years, native children were ripped from their culture and placed in ‘boarding schools.’ The genocidal mission was to eradicate native languages with children tortured and murdered for speaking their language. That mission failed and the Navajo language survived, the language that the Code Talkers spoke to save countless lives and our nation as well.

Whether or not Elizabeth Warren made false claims to Native heritage is another discussion. The moment belonged to the Navajo heroes and should not have been soiled by Trump’s racist slur and jab at a political rival.