In the News
Guest Commentary | Published December 3, 2017
White House ceremony for honorable and aging Navajo (Dine’) code talkers on Monday, November 27, 2017.
Painting on the wall behind the code talkers: Indian slayer, author and implementer of the Indian Removal Act: Andrew Jackson
The 45th occupant’s words during his “honoring ceremony” for the brave code talkers:
“You’re very very special people. You were here long before any of us were here,” President Trump said to the veterans in the white house ceremony. “Although 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. Because you are special.”
These words are so offensive on so many levels, it is difficult to know where to start. As an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Nation, as a Native woman, as a woman, as a retired clinical psychologist who worked with trauma survivors, in and out of Indian Country, as a person who has a deep understanding of my own history, my own tribal history, and the history of genocide and death that has continued for the past 525 years, I am disgusted and disheartened by not only these ugly words but the shocking support and defense that so many nonNatives (primarily on the right end of the political spectrum) have for them.
In fact, the true story of Pocahontas is tragic, horrifying, and one that echoes the allegations of sexual assault against Trump, Roy Moore, and, now, so many men in power. There are several facts that need to be discussed before the rest of Trump’s insulting comments are examined. First, Pocahontas was a 12-year-old girl who was abducted, raped, and held for ransom by the English during the Anglo-Indian war of 1613. She was born in 1598 and died in 1617. She was the daughter of a principal chief, Powhatan of the Paumunkey tribe. She was forced into Christianity during her time in captivity and died in London, where she was forced to go with her husband, a planter named John Rolfe. The myth of Pocahontas is that she “saved” the life of John Smith, a colonizer, when she “laid her head on that of Captain John Smith” when her father was going to kill Smith.
***Please see NCAI’s statement issued on May 3, 2017 on President Trump’s use of the name Pocahontas here.
Pocahontas was a real person who to this day holds significant value to her family and her tribe, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe in Virginia. The Pamunkey struck a treaty with the British Crown in the 1600s, and just last year were officially recognized as a federally recognized tribe by the U.S. government after a decades-long struggle. The name of Pocahontas should not be used as a slur, and it is inappropriate for anyone to use her name in a disparaging manner.
I am deeply ashamed of the way the President of the United States has treated the veterans during an honoring ceremony at the White House. Veterans are brave heroes who sacrificed everything, despite the historical trauma to tribal nations, when asked to defend the United States. It has been more than 200 years of living together, yet the President of the United States knows nothing about us. An apology is in order for the warriors that were present, to the Native nations and the United States for his behavior. The President of the United States wanted to utilize an opportunity to honor Native warriors who defended this land to make a political attack. I have one for him, leave the office you bought and take your swamp things with you. -Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier in Washington after White House Tribal Nations Conference.
***CODE TALKERS [from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, Lakota, Meskwaki, Mohawk, Navajo, Tlingit, and other tribes who served during World Wars I and II]
Code talkers served with all six Marine divisions in the Pacific and with Marine Raider and parachute units, earning lavish praise for their performance in the Solomons and the Marianas and on Peleliu and Iwo Jima. Of Iwo Jima, Fifth Marine Division Signal Officer Major Howard Conner said, “The entire operation was directed by Navajo code. . . . During the two days that followed the initial landings I had six Navajo radio nets working around the clock. . . . They sent and received over 800 messages without an error. Were it not for the Navajo Code Talkers, the Marines never would have taken Iwo Jima.”
“Navajo School” graduated 421 code talkers assigned mostly to combat units overseas. Following Japan’s surrender, several volunteered for occupation duty. Others were sent to Marine units in China. Code talker Willson Price stayed a Marine for 30 years, retiring in 1972.
Most code talkers came home to family reunions and purification rites, traditional dances, and curing ceremonies, coupled with maternal prayers of thanks for sons’ safe return. These rites originated to protect returning Navajo from harmful influences they might have encountered or duties they had to to perform while away. VIA
Cree code talkers
In the World War II, native Cree speakers were used as code talkers for the Canadian Armed Forces. Due to oaths of secrecy, and official classification through 1963, the role of Cree speakers has gone unacknowledged by the Canadian government. A 2015 documentary, Cree Code Talkers, tells the story of one such Métis individual, Charles “Checker” Tomkins, who died in 2003. READ MORE
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Indian Affairs committee, added: “Donald Trump’s latest racist joke — during Native American Heritage Month no less — demeaned the contributions that the Code Talkers and countless other Native American patriots and citizens have made to our great country.”
Robert J. Benz, November 19, 2017, Huffington Post
Sometimes the answers to our most perplexing questions are right in front of us. How, for instance, could it be that our continuously-evolving society is more divided than ever over skin color and cultural identity when we just had a two-term, black President? Is the media turning white citizens against black citizens or it is caused by the ambitions of opportunistic politicians who promise to get tough on crime and clean-up the community? Maybe it’s the fault of an extreme fringe of fanatics; both black and white? Or could it be that we’re simply incapable of controlling our own prejudices because they’re written into our DNA? continue…OH NO!
Trump’s Attack on Sacred Grounds in Utah By cutting 1.1 million acres out of the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument, the president delivered a win for mining interests and a loss for environmentalists. Perhaps most significant, though, is the affront this represents to the Pueblo people, whose sacred ancestral sites at Bears Ears date back thousands of years. (The Takeaway)
OH NO! Oh, yes! When I watched this Code Talker debacle unfold on television (jaw-dropped)… it is obvious Drumpf knows zilch/nothing about Indians and doesn’t care to know… For over 30 years he has made racist statements to the media about us… when you are that ignorant, you simply don’t pretend to care… and yet our tribal nations are his constituents too…There is talk of war… yes, war… L/Tp.s. ah…apparently just 8 US presidents did visit an official visit to an Indian reservation, of course never all 567+ locations…. read this