It turns out Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for using the racist pejorative “Pocahontas” to attack Senator Elizabeth Warren is familiar territory for the “textbook” racist xenophobe.
Several new reports reveal that Donald Trump has for decades launched racist attacks on Native American tribes that he saw as a threat to his bankrupted-several-times-over business ventures.
In 1993, for example, The Star Ledger reports that Trump — who himself has well-documented mob ties — “told a U.S. House subcommittee that ‘organized crime is rampant’ on Indian reservations — an assertion challenged by others at the hearing.” Later, in 2000, Trump ran “secretly funded ads” claiming the Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation had a “well documented” history of “criminal activity.” “Are these the neighbors we want?” asked Trump’s ad, opposing a proposed St. Regis Mohawk casino in the Catskills.
Trump’s recent call for racial and religious profiling, racist attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and anti-Muslim fearmongering, are just the latest manifestation of Donald Trump’s racism — he’s maliciously targeted and stereotyped minority groups for years.
The Star-Ledger: Remember when Donald Trump went after another minority group 20 years ago?
The billionaire businessman was accused of smearing American Indian tribes as he fought to keep them from opening gambling halls north of New Jersey that he believed would threaten his three Atlantic City gambling halls, as well as one he planned to build in Connecticut. In 1993, Trump told a U.S. House subcommittee that “organized crime is rampant” on Indian reservations — an assertion challenged by others at the hearing. And in 2000, he secretly funded ads against a Catskills casino that, according to reports at the time, declared, “The St. Regis Mohawk Indian record of criminal activity is well documented.” Like today, the real estate mogul was accused of making unsubstantiated charges by using “people have told me” as a source, and professed love for those he was targeting.
Asked why he went after the Indian tribes, Trump responded through spokeswoman Hope Hicks: “To help New Jersey, where your dying newspaper is based.”
Los Angeles Times: Trump’s art of the deal with Native Americans: Racial insults or flattery, whichever was good for business
But Trump’s long and conflicted history with Native Americans also showed that he can deploy his racial epithets strategically, demeaning tribes that threatened his casino empire, romancing others if he thought he could cut a deal with them – whichever tactic was better for business. During his years as a casino magnate, even as Trump courted tribes on the West Coast as potential partners, he bashed others in New York and Connecticut as criminals, frauds and pawns of the mob.
The derisive use of stereotypes foreshadowed Trump’s campaign trail insults of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the liberal rival he’s labeled “Pocahontas” for her undocumented claims of Cherokee heritage. Last week, a crowd at a Trump rally erupted in war whoops when he leveled insults at Warren; a few minutes later, Trump insisted he is “the least racist person that you’ve ever seen.”
New York Times: Donald Trump’s Use of ‘Pocahontas’ Has Native Americans Worried
Nevertheless, Mr. Trump’s words have stirred a debate among Native Americans about how they should deal with him. For many, his mention of the historical figure is offensive and a sign that Mr. Trump, who has been accused of being anti-immigrant, also has problems with the people who first inhabited the country. This year, the nickname has become Mr. Trump’s favorite pejorative for punching back at Ms. Warren, a progressive Democrat who is one of his most vocal critics. In 2012, the former Harvard Law School professor came under fire when it emerged that during her academic career she identified herself as a minority, citing Native American roots.
Native Americans have taken notice.
“I think he definitely says it as a slur,” said Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. “No matter how he feels about Elizabeth Warren, to throw that out there is disrespectful to real Native Americans.”
The Daily Beast: ‘Pocahontas’ Isn’t The Only Native American Trump Has Offended
Like on many other matters, Trump has a long track record of distasteful statements and gestures towards Native Americans. It’s another signal of why Republicans who hope he will change are likely to be left wanting. Trump’s campaign did not respond to request for comment…Trump’s hostile relationship with Native Americans appears to have begun with his involvement in the casino industry, when his gaming businesses competed with tribe-owned casinos in the 1990s and 2000s…
He later questioned whether some of the people who had opened casinos which competed with his were actually of Native American heritage: “I think if you’ve ever been up there, you would truly say that these are not Indians.”
“Organized crime is rampant on Indian reservations,” Trump bellowed during testimony before Congress a few months later, according to a contemporaneous report. “It’s going to blow. It’s just a matter of time.”
In many ways, his rhetoric before that House subcommittee in 1993 mirrors that of his views on Muslims today.
Referring to crime on Native American land, Trump said he refused to be “politically correct” and added, “What is happening on the Indian reservations is known by the Indians to a large extent.
Published: Jun 20, 2016