Photo courtesy
On Monday, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he knows Native Americans "that are extremely proud" of the name of the Washington football team.

Houska: Trump Burns Native Americans Again

Tara Houska

On Monday, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump weighed in on the Washington team name. In an interview with the New York Times, he gave his support for a dictionary-defined racial slur, and went on to say “I know Indians that are extremely proud of that name, they think it’s a positive.”

So Trump has an Indian friend and they think it’s okay. Gotcha.

Putting aside the anecdotal evidence of the friend that represents over five million Native Americans, Trump’s past interactions with Native Americans illustrate his understanding of the stereotypes that Native mascots perpetuate.

In 2000, he funded an advertising campaign that accused the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of a long history of violent crimes and drug use. St. Regis was set to open a casino in New York’s Catskill region; the ad asked “Are these the new neighbors we want?” The tribe condemned it as a naked appeal to racism.

Back in 1993, Trump testified before the House Subcommittee on Indian Affairs and claimed the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation was not authentic, as “they don’t look like Indians to me, and they don’t look like Indians to Indians.” The Pequot Nation’s casino had surpassed his Atlantic City operation as the largest casino in the world at the time.  

One wonders what an Indian is supposed to look like, according to Trump. A Washington team logo, perhaps?

RELATED: Houska: Jeb Bush Says Native Americans Aren't Offended: Next Time Ask Us First

Oneida Nation’s Change the Mascot campaign was unsurprised by the news, calling Trump “a candidate who labeled Mexican immigrants rapists and calls women “pigs” [and] now says he wants the NFL to continue slurring Native Americans.”

Trump becomes the latest Republican candidate to weigh in on the issue – last week Jeb Bush, fellow GOP presidential contender, said that “Native Americans generally don’t find [the name] offensive.” This despite the numerous tribes and tribal organizations representing nearly 1.5 million Native Americans that condemned the Washington team name.

Although Bush and Trump have become increasingly hostile toward one another, on the fight of Native Americans against institutional racism, their values align. As noted by the Democratic National Convention, “It seems like Jeb Bush and Donald Trump agree on which group to insult next: Native Americans.”

Last year, 50 Democratic Senators signed a letter urging the National Football League to endorse a name change as “racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.” The letter was not circulated among Senate Republicans. Tom Cole, one of just two Native American members of Congress, is one of the few Republicans that has publicly called for a name change.

Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is a tribal rights attorney in Washington, D.C., a founding member of, and an all-around rabble rouser. Follow her: @zhaabowekwe.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Is this the same US Congress that is sitting at the 19% Approval mark for getting "things" done on behalf of the American peope? >>>>>>>>>>>>>> "1.5 MILLION Native American people"? Meanwhile, in the REAL_WORLD Indian Reservation USA, the struggle continues for family, work, publik skooling. We still attend our high school football games (Warriors, Chiefs, Redskins) and cheer proudly. We still prepare for our NFL Sunday football games and cheer proudly if even the Chiefs, Redskins. I suggest YOU look again in who you supposedly represent in light of one white guy asking if he should write his support; another posing as an Apache guy; and still another using "territories". I am sure there are more out there.

human being's picture
human being
Submitted by human being on
Well written article! Thanks for posting it. Keep up the IMPORTANT fight! Some of us card carrying Native citizens appreciate your work despite what some commenter on these boards have insinuated. I enjoyed the article even more since I somehow managed to beat tmsyr11 here and don't have to read his drivel.