Her entire political career, Senator Elizabeth Warren has defended her claims to being descendent from American Indians. To prove her point, she recently released the results from a DNA test. However, this is not how American Indian communities determine who is a member and who isn’t. Producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling takes over commentary duties to discuss the complicated history of American Indian identity and its appropriation. They are joined by Dr. Julie L. Reed, historian and citizen of the Cherokee Nation and author of Serving the Nation: Cherokee Sovereignty and Social Welfare, 1800-1907.
Donald Trump tweeted this today:
Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2019
- Trump is definitely worried about Warren’s candidacy.
- Why did Trump capitalize the word “trail?” As an American historian, one thing comes to mind when I see the word “trail” emphasized in a tweet about native Americans. That is the “Trail of Tears.” Perhaps you are unfamiliar with this tragic event in our history. Learn more here.
- Andrew Jackson initiated the Trail of Tears. He believed native Americans were racially inferior and an impediment to the advancement of white settlement across the continent.
- Jackson called Indian removal a “just, humane, liberal policy towards the Indians.” This reminds me of Trump’s statements about his “humane” border wall. He has said on numerous occasions that the wall will protect both American citizens and the immigrants.
- Jackson understood the removal of these Indian groups in the context of democracy. In the 1830s, of course, democracy was white. The white men who voted Jackson into office wanted Indian land. Jackson heard their voice and gave then what they wanted by forcibly moving native Americans to present-day Oklahoma.
- Andrew Jackson’s portrait hangs prominently in Trump’s Oval Office.
- Is Trump really smart enough to know that capitalizing the word “trail” would send such a message? If he is, this is blatantly racist and yet another appeal to one of America’s darkest moments. (I mention other such appeals in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump). If he does not know what this tweet implies, then it is just another example of the anti-intellectual clown we have in the Oval Office right now–a man who is completely unaware of the national story to which he has entered as president.