First Nations communications specialist recalls Trump's 'Pocahontas' insult on the campaign trail
Says Monday's comment to veterans was 'two-prong way of disrespecting our women and our elders'
U.S. President Donald Trump's reference to Pocahontas during a ceremony for Navajo veterans at the White House Monday has Calgary-based First Nations communications specialist Nicole Robertson reliving a similar Trump encounter.
During remarks praising their service, Trump took a shot at Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has previously claimed Native American heritage, saying: "We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what, I like you."
"Once again POTUS has proven to North American Indigenous people that he has no respect and no tact in understanding or wanting to understand our ways of being," said Robertson.
Robertson confronted Trump during a campaign stop in North Dakota in July 2016. During a press conference there Trump also called Warren "Pocahontas," and Robertson shouted out in response, "That's very offensive."
Trump said "Oh, I'm sorry about that," then went on to repeat the word several more times.
A media frenzy ensued, sparking a discussion across North America on the subject.
"What happened Monday, again, it was a two-prong way of disrespecting our women and our elders," said Robertson.
Trump needs a history lesson of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, she added.
"He's taken back American citizens to when settlers first arrived on the shores and has that mindset of not being able to have any sort of real connection to the people of the land."
Robertson said she hopes Trump will consider the backlash over his comments to prevent this from happening again.
"Someone at that level of a world leader should understand that there needs to be respectful dialogue. Right now, he's showing us that he's still at the same place as he was when he got elected," said Robertson.
Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, issued a statement saying they did "not want to engage in this dialogue between Sen. Warren and President Trump" when the purpose of the day's events was to honour Native American code talkers.
"In this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people," the statement said.
"The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy."
Navajo council delegate Amber Crotty issued a harsher statement, calling the use of Pocahontas a "racial slur."
"The Navajo Code Talkers are not pawns to advance a personal grudge, or promote false narratives," she wrote.
"Such pandering dishonours the sacrifice of our national heroes."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the president's reference to Pocahontas as being offensive on Monday.