President Donald Trump apparently wasn’t paying attention — or maybe he was — when Native American leaders blasted his “racist” use of “Pocahontas” as a slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). He resurrected it — again — Saturday in a tweet. But what was more startling was his eldest son’s response using an astonishing term: “Savage!!! I love my president!”
Trump wondered mockingly in a tweet Saturday if Warren would be the nation’s “first Native American presidential candidate” — denigrating both Warren and appearing to characterize the idea of a Native American candidate as unimaginable.
Warren has been criticized for referring to her Native American heritage. Though a DNA test last year indicated she likely had a Native American ancestor, she is not the member of any tribe. She apologized last week to the Cherokee Nation, whose leaders have said that being a tribal citizen is “rooted in centuries of culture and laws — not through DNA.”
Several who responded on Twitter to Trump’s last line, “See you on the campaign TRAIL Liz,” saw it as a callous reference to the “Trail of Tears,” a brutal series of forced government relocations of Native American in the southeast beginning in 1830 that resulted in countless deaths.
Donald Trump Jr. responded to his father’s tweet on Instagram incorporating an astonishing term — “savage” — harkening back to the height of the nation’s racism amid massacres of thousands of Native Americans. He added: “I love my president.”
He was likely referring to the president’s comment as “savage,” but it was shockingly tone deaf — or a chilling deliberate choice.
Donald Jr.’s Instagram post also included one response to the president’s tweet that joked about the “Native American genocide” which “continues with another murder by the president,” apparently referring to Warren.
Both father and son’s posts drew appalled jeers — and cheers.
“Keep up the work as a mouthpiece for hate,” was one response on Donald Jr.’s Instagram post. “Yes, let’s continue to make jokes about the Native American genocide,” another noted sarcastically.
Still another: “NOT a fan of Elizabeth Warren, but retweeting [genocide tweet] is basically saying that the American presidents’ history of ordering the genocide of the Native Americans was a good thing.” Also, simply: “This is so effed up,” and: “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
The president was most recently attacked by Native Americans last month when he quipped in a tweet that Warren should have made a political video at Wounded Knee. Hundreds of unarmed Native Americans, many of them women and children, were slaughtered by American Troops in 1890 at Wounded Knee in South Dakota.
American Indians and their supporters were not amused. One compared it to joking about 9/11. “Flippant references to deadly historical conflicts and name-calling that mocks Native identity have no place in our political discourse,” Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said then in a statement.
Trump has repeatedly been pulled up for using Pocahontas as a slur. John Norwood, general secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, said more than a year ago that the president should “stop using our historical people of significance as a racial slur against one of his opponents.”
Criticism continued in response to his latest tweet:
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated that the Trail of Tears took place in the American Southwest instead of the Southeast.