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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Families of Navajo war veterans who were honored Monday at the White House say they were dumbfounded that President Donald Trump used the event to take a political jab at a Massachusetts senator, demeaning their work with an unbreakable code that helped the U.S. win World War II.

Trump turned to a nickname he often deployed for Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren during the 2016 presidential campaign: Pocahontas. He then told the three Navajo Code Talkers on stage that he had affection for them that he doesn’t have for Warren.

“It was uncalled for,” said Marty Thompson, whose great uncle was a Navajo Code Talker. “He can say what he wants when he’s out doing his presidential business among his people, but when it comes to honoring veterans or any kind of people, he needs to grow up and quit saying things like that.”

Pocahontas is a well-known historical figure who bridged her own Pamunkey Tribe in present-day Virginia with the British in the 1600s. But the National Congress of American Indians says Trump wrongly has flipped the name into a derogatory term, and the comment drew swift criticism from American Indians and politicians.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked about criticism of Trump’s remarks, said a racial slur “was certainly not the president’s intent.”

Trump made the comment as he stood near a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, which he hung in the Oval Office in January.

Trump admires Jackson’s populism. But Jackson is an unpopular figure in Indian Country because his policies led to the forced removal of American Indians out of their southern homelands.

The Navajo Nation suggested Trump’s remark Monday was an example of “cultural insensitivity” and resolved to stay out of the “ongoing feud between the senator and President Trump.”

“All tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement.

Still, Begaye and relatives of Navajo Code Talkers said they’re honored the story of the men recruited from the vast Southwest reservation to become Marines could be told on a national stage. Peter MacDonald, a former Navajo chairman and trained Code

Talker who stood beside Trump, also took the opportunity to ask for support for a Navajo Code Talker museum. Trump obliged.

MacDonald didn’t immediately return messages left Monday by The Associated Press. He didn’t visibly react to Trump’s “Pocahontas” comment and later told the president he was certain he would succeed, crediting military generals.

Michael Smith, a Marine whose father was a Code Talker, said most of the Code Talkers would be skeptical about going to the White House because it could be construed to mean they support a political cause.

“So, why did they go? Why were they there? He’s putting them in the Oval Office to say ‘You did a good job, and say hi to Pocahontas?'” Smith said. “They should be taken care of as heroes, not as pawns.”

Michael Nez, whose father helped develop the code based on the Navajo language, said his father would have been upset to hear Trump’s Pocahontas comment. But, as other Code Talker relatives said, his father was taught to respect the president as the commander in chief.

“It’s too bad he does put his foot in his mouth,” Nez said. “Why he does it? I don’t know.”

Helena Begaii said her 94-year-old Navajo Code Talker father, Samuel T. Holiday, declined an invitation to the White House on

Monday. She said he would have a better feel for what happened once he reads the newspaper.

“I feel really sad that they didn’t get treated with respect,” she said.

Trump’s Pocahontas comment is the latest in a long list of remarks Trump has made about people from specific ethnic and racial groups. In announcing a run for the presidency in 2015, Trump said many Mexican immigrants are rapists. He’s sought to ban immigrants from certain Muslim majority nations. He’s come under fire for what some said was a too-slow federal response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

The president has long feuded with Warren, an outspoken Wall Street critic who leveled blistering attacks on Trump during the campaign. Trump seized on questions about Warren’s heritage, which surfaced during her 2012 Senate race challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

Warren said in an interview on MSNBC that, unfortunately, Trump cannot make it through a ceremony honoring heroes “without having to throw out a racial slur.”

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.”

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(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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23 thoughts on “Families Of Navajo Code Talkers Decry Trump’s Political Jab

      • You know she’s talking about trump, the childlike prez. This man hates this job. He thought being prez would be easy. He felt if Obama could do it so could he. NOT!!!! He looks like a lost puppy. He’s a Sad and pathological liar.

  1. I found the political jab amusing, I also find it far more appalling that a blond haired blue eyed woman of European decent would LIE about being a minority to advance her own career, Guess that’s was her “white privilege moment”

    • Why won’t you comment on illiterat your fake prez is? He is the dumbesst prez I’ve ever seen in my life. My 9 y/o grandson’s vocabulary is larger than your incompetent fake ass prez. Haha

    • Well considering he’s amassed a net worth to the tune of $3.7 Billion looks like in his case being a moron really payed off, how much is your “smart ass” worth? And if he’s “fake” why does he reside in the WH use Airforce One to travel all round the world meeting important leaders, I’m sorry when was the last time you drove your hooptie out of the projects??

      • Who gives a rats ass what that dumb bitch is worth? Hes still a dumb mofo. And he made alot of his money from slapping his name on buildings. Where’s his damn taxes? That will show the world how much that fool is really worth. He probably owe 3.3 billion to Putin. He’s a racist, bigoted joke!!!!!!.

      • btw. If you consider a 2016 a “hooptie” I’m driving it proudly. Also BOY, I’m definitely not coming living in the projects, fool!!!!

      • “slapping his name on buildings” well apparently his name has value if people are willing to pay to use it, “slap” your name on some things see how much you can make

      • specialt757 on said:

        D, jhuf thinks anyone black with an opinion other than his, is poor and stupid. His little pea brain won’t let him imagine you in a 2016 automobile or not living in the projects. His mentor taught him that.

      • [D] I,m worth only a small fraction of POTUS45
        [spec] Oh yes dear I can imagine [D] in a 2016 anything cause this is the United States of America where ANYONE can achieve wealth and prosperity, something the race hustlers refuse to teach the plantation negroes

      • [D] not nearly as much as POTUS45
        {spec] oh yes I can picture [D] in a 2016/17/or 18 because I was taught in America anyone can achieve anything, in contrast to what the race hustlers teach you plantation blacks

  2. specialt757 on said:

    Again, while at the gym, (because that’s the only place faux news is on), yesterday, they didn’t even cover this story. They mentioned roy moore very briefly, but they kept in rotation the Conyers and Franken mess, but I did not see one thing on this story. Talking about FAKE NEWS!

    • Sounds like you go to a really upscale and classy gym to work off that whole turkey pan of dressing and 2 pies you consumed over the holiday

  3. Donald Trump is a racist, Donald Trump is a racist. This is a racist country. The ppl who voted for this clown should be ashamed of themselves. But they aren’t.

    • And yet minority’s from across the globe still risk their lives and give up everything they have to get here P.S. I did and no I’m not

      • You’ll regret it one day when the fool resigns. He’ll resign before they impeach his treasonous ass.

  4. If he only had a BRAIN!!!!!!!

    Even at an honorary ceremony Chump couldn’t help himself but to make a “racist slur”
    when referring to Elizabeth Warren as “Pocohantas.”

    You could see the Native American’s cringe as Chump said this.

    WTF?????????????

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