Donald Trump has a penchant for insulting people. A favorite target is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). He regularly calls her “Pocahontas” as a slur.
Today Warren went to the National Congress of American Indians to address the issue. And what she said was powerful.
Warren addressed head-on the controversy over her claims to Native American heritage and the president who
keeps calling her “Pocahontas” because of them.
Here’s an excerpt from Elizabeth Warren’s speech:
I’ve noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas. So I figured, let’s talk about Pocahontas. Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived, and whose real story has been passed down to so many of you through the generations.
Pocahontas — whose original name wasn’t even Pocahontas.
In the fairy tale, Pocahontas and John Smith meet and fall in love.
Except Smith was nearly 30, and Pocahontas was about 10 years old. Whatever happened between them, it was no love story.
In the fairy tale, Pocahontas saves John Smith from execution at the hands of her father.
Except that was probably made up too.
In the fable, her baptism as “Rebecca” and her marriage to a Jamestown settler are held up to show the moral righteousness of colonization.
In reality, the fable is used to bleach away the stain of genocide.
As you know, Pocahontas’s real journey was far more remarkable — and far darker — than the myth admits.
As a child, she played a significant role in mediating relations between the tribes ruled by her father and the early settlers at Jamestown. Those efforts helped establish early trade relations between the two peoples. Without her help, the English settlers might well have perished.
But in her teens, Pocahontas was abducted, imprisoned and held captive. Oral history of the Mattaponi tribe indicates that she was ripped away from her first husband and child and raped in captivity.
Eventually she married another John — John Rolfe. Her marriage led to an uneasy harmony between Jamestown and the tribes, a period that some historians call the Peace of Pocahontas.
But she was not around to enjoy it. John Rolfe paraded her around London to entertain the British and prop up financial investments in the Virginia Company. She never made it home. She was about 21 when she died, an ocean separating her from her people.
Indigenous people have been telling the story of Pocahontas — the real Pocahontas — for four centuries. A story of heroism. And bravery. And pain.
And for almost as long, her story has been taken away by powerful people who twisted it to serve their own purposes.
You can find the rest of the story at the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/the-fix/wp/2018/02/14/elizabeth-warrens-full-pocahontas-and-trump-speech-annotated/