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Fort Belknap council offended by Trump 'Pocahantas' remark


December 6, 2017

Dear President Donald Trump:

This letter is written to express the great dissatisfaction and disappointment in your recent comments at the Honoring Ceremony for the Native American Code Talkers. Your comments referring to a U.S. senator as “Pocahontas” were totally inappropriate and insensitive to all Native Americans, not just to the Code Talkers that you addressed.

Your timing in making such comments for personal satisfaction and opportunity also shows an insensitivity to the purpose of the meeting and a blatant disrespect to all Native American veterans who serve this nation at high rates and with great pride and respect. So, when you overshadowed the honoring of the code talkers during Native American Heritage Month, you intentionally bypassed the honoring of those who served this country at great sacrifice to themselves and their respective tribes, to make a jab at your political foe.

Even before the formation of the United States, Native Americans held their respective “Warrior Societies” in the highest regard. It was always an honor to serve their tribes. Rather than dodge the issue of serving and protecting, they stepped forward and viewed it as a personal honor and duty, regardless of the physical, mental and spiritual sacrifices. They didn’t shirk their duty to defend and protect.

Compounding the insult, the placement of the veterans and yourself in front of a picture of Andrew Jackson sent another clear message to Indian Country: you view Native Americans in a disrespectful way. Your not so subtle message to others was obvious.

World War I included the first Native American code talkers. However, it wasn’t until 1924 that Native Americans were recognized as United States citizens through the Citizenship Act of 1924. Although not recognized as United States citizens, Native American warriors enlisted in a war that was not of their doing. There were code talkers from various tribes, all very ready and proud to serve the United States military.

Code talkers are finally being recognized for their great contributions and sacrifices. One of those code talkers was Gilbert Horn Sr., a very distinguished member of the Assiniboine (Nakoda) Tribe of the Fort Belknap Indian Community who continues to be held in high regard. Mr. Horn served as President of the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council numerous times. He was a member of the U.S. Army’s Merrill’s Marauders. He was a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. His Nakoda name was Shunk Ta Oba Kni, “Returns With Prisoner Horse.” He was made an honorary chief.

And there have been many members of both the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community who have honorably served in all branches of the military.

So, your most recent insults and racial slurs during the Nov. 27, 2017 presentation strikes the Fort Belknap Indian Community as especially egregious and shameful.

We, as tribal leaders, are extremely offended by your recent disrespectful actions. Your intentional actions and words are not welcomed in any way, for any reason. They are demoralizing not only to the code talkers, but the Native Americans who recently or are currently in all branches of the U.S. military and their families. Both as president of the United States and as commander in chief, you should lead by example. There is no excuse.

Fort Belknap Indian Community Council

Andrew R. Werk, president

Gerald Healy, vice-president

Phillip Shortman, Gros Ventre at large

Jeffery Stiffarm, Gros Ventre representative

Brandi King, Assiniboine at large

Curtis Horne, Assiniboine representative

Dominic Messerly, River Gros Ventre representative

Nathaniel Mount, River Assinoboine representative

Warren Morin, Mountain Gros Ventre representative

Lynn Cliff Jr., Mountain Assiniboine representative.


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