Trump’s “Wounded Knee” and “Battle of Little Big Horn” in Political Attack Outrages Indian Country

Wounded Knee was one of the darkest chapters in American history.


Published January 14, 2019

WASHINGTON — Indian Country expressed its outrage on Monday over President Trump invoking the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Battle of Little Bighorn on Twitter on Sunday against Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” the president wrote on Twitter Sunday night, sharing a CBS News video of Warren in her kitchen talking to supporters through Instagram Live.

The president who reportedly is not well read, apparently does not realize the significance each battle plays in the history of American Indians in the United States. Wounded Knee happended in December 1890. During the massacre, an estimated 300 unarmed men, women, and children American Indians were rounded up and slaughtered by members of the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry.

Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians

On Monday, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Pesident Jefferson Keel said flippant references to deadly historical conflicts and name-calling that mocks Native identity have no place in our political discourse.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the casual and callous use of these events as part of a political attack. Hundreds of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people lost their lives at the hands of the invading U.S. Army during these events, and their memories should not be desecrated as a rhetorical punch line,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel.

Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and NCAI Great Plains Alternate Area Vice President released this statement:

“The President referenced the Wounded Knee Massacre, one of the darkest and most tragic chapters in the history of the Sioux Nation, to mock Senator Warren. On behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, I condemn President Trump’s racist and disrespectful tweet about this brutal incident, in which an estimated 300 unarmed men, women, and children were rounded up and slaughtered. President Trump should remember that the United States has broken and continues to dishonor the treaties of peace made with our nation and other tribal nations of this country, and he should apologize immediately to the people of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations for his shameful and ignorant misstatement.”

For the past 75 years, NCAI has worked as a non-partisan organization to educate both sides of the political aisle about the unique political status of tribal nations as governments, the federal government’s permanent trust and treaty obligations to uphold and support tribal sovereignty, and contemporary tribal nations and their priorities for brighter futures. In furtherance of that educational effort, NCAI encourages the Administration and Congress to learn about the issues that are important to contemporary Native peoples. It also calls on the President and all other elected officials to refrain from disparaging Native peoples, their cultural identities, and their histories for partisan gain.

“Flippant references to deadly historical conflicts and name-calling that mocks Native identity have no place in our political discourse,” said Keel. “I urge the President to focus instead on doing the people’s business, including ending the needless government shutdown that is harming so many Native people.”

To learn more about contemporary tribal nations and their issues, please click here. To learn more about the impacts of the partial government shutdown on tribal nations, click here.

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