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Donald Trump's Pocahontas comment draws objection from Calgary writer

A Calgary-based media consultant is making headlines and trending on social media after objecting to Donald Trump’s use of the word Pocahontas to describe a United States senator.

Nicole Robertson critical of presidential candidate's remarks before North Dakota rally

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Bismarck, N.D. on Thursday, where he was called out by a Calgary woman for using the word Pocahontas to describe a U.S. senator. (Charles Rex Arbogast/The Associated Press)

A Calgary-based media consultant is making headlines and trending on social media after she shouted an objection to Donald Trump's use of the word Pocahontas to describe a United States senator.

Nicole Robertson, president of Muskwa Productions and Consulting, was in the audience when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was speaking to the media before a rally on Thursday in Bismarck, N.D.

Asked a question about Senator Elizabeth Warren, Trump said, "Who, Pocahontas?"

Calgary blogger Nicole Robertson shouted an objection when Trump referred to a U.S. senator as Pocahontas at a media scrum in North Dakota on Thursday. (@sarahmccammon/Twitter)

That prompted Robertson, who works to promote awareness about Indigenous peoples, to shout out, "That's very offensive, sorry."

"Oh, I'm sorry about that," said Trump, who then repeated the word several more times in reference to the Massachusetts politician, who has claimed to be partly Native American.

"I think she's as Native American as I am, OK, that I will tell you," he said. "But she's a woman that's been very ineffective other than she's got a big mouth."

Pocahontas was a Native American woman who in the 17th century lived in what is now Virginia when English colonists had arrived in the New World. She converted to Christianity, married a white tobacco farmer and was presented to English society as a "civilized savage."

The word is now seen by many aboriginal people as a racial slur.

The fact that Trump seemed unaware of the word's power to offend suggests he is ignorant when it comes to Indigenous issues, Robertson told CBC News.

"He's coming from a very amateur perspective," she said. "There needs to be, full out, an apology, number 1. We, as Native American, Native Canadian women have gone through enough marginalization, victimization."

Robertson said her exchange with Trump has put her at the centre of a media frenzy as she continues to get interview requests from news organizations all across the continent. 

"It has become a topic of discussion for all the major U.S. networks," she said. 

While some of the reaction on social media has been racist and hateful, Robertson said most people have congratulated her for speaking out.

"I'm just so appreciative of the support," she said. 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called Senator Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas several times in his North Dakota speech, which some are saying is highly offensive. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

Robertson, who is Cree, says on her LinkedIn page she created Muskwa Productions in part to help "First Nations in their communication strategies to create accurate representations of their news and events to educate and inform mainstream media."

She was in Bismarck working with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation as its members attended the petroleum conference at which Trump was speaking.