I’m not shocked by President Agent Orange’s antics anymore. Ever crass and uncouth, the Commander-in-Cheeto’s most recent affront was directed at Native people via Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.
Though not surprising, this was a cringe-worthy scene: Jackson’s portrait leering over a ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers…during which Donald disrespects them (?). We all know the backstory: the orange one has a track record of anti-Native racism, and since the election, he’s taken to referring to Senator Warren as “Pocahontas” because of her unproven claims to Indigenous ancestry.
First of all, waumpeshau (white people) always get the story of this young girl wrong. Her real name was Matoaka, and she was a child kidnapped by English colonists. Donald Wig’s flippant use of her name as a pejorative – and specifically, a racial slur – trivializes the short and tragic life of this young girl. It trivalizes, too, the long history of sexual violence to which white men not unlike the predator president have subjected Indigenous womxn.
Secondly, we need to acknowledge the violence of Elizabeth Warren claiming to be Native to benefit her career, because in so doing, she objectifies Native identity. Warren could very well be Indigenous. I don’t know her family, and I’m not here to play gatekeeper. So my issue is not with the veracity of her selective claims, but rather, that they demonstrate colonial understandings of Indigeneity all too common among non-Native folks: that Indigenous identities are costumes one can put on and take off at will. Like we don’t live in a society that has brutalized us for being Indigenous since white people first got here.
And, not for nothing, I’m yet to see Warren show up for our people in Massachusetts – or anywhere, for that matter. Correct me if I’m wrong, but sis has never had anything to say about the Washington Redsk*ns. Where was she when shit was getting real at Standing Rock? Why was she quiet as a church mouse when Donald approved both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Piplelines? And yet I’m supposed to be inspired by the “nevertheless she persisted” white feminist crap.
So, yes, the “president” needs to be checked on using racial slurs. But can we take the critique a step further and engage with the violence against Native people from which both Donald Dump and Elizabeth Warren benefit? My people continue to be the butt of the joke of a political beef between these two. And at every opportunity, we don’t advance the conversation to face the reality of anti-Native racism in this country. SMDH.