Column: Donald Trump's first big slur came at tribe's expense

The Foxwoods Resort Casino, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut, as seen in 2009. Photo by Eigenes Werk / Wikipedia

Columnist Dan Haar digs into a House Subcommittee on Native American Affairs hearing on October 5, 1993 for more on the history of racial and ethnic insults hurled by presidential candidate Donald Trump:
With Donald Trump making headlines for insulting Mexicans, prisoners of war and now women, it's worth noting that he sharpened his teeth in the politics of insensitive putdowns more than 20 years ago in a Connecticut dispute.

It was 1993, and Trump's target at the time was the Mashantucket Pequots, whose Foxwoods casino and high-stakes bingo hall was less than two years old but already eclipsed the big hotels of Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

"They don't look like Indians to me," Trump said to a Congressional subcommittee inquiring about organized crime and policing in Native American casinos. "They don't look like Indians to Indians."

The remark drew instant calls of racism. It still resonates in Connecticut, where Foxwoods and later Mohegan Sun grew to employ a total of more than 20,000 people before retrenching in recent years.

Trump's remarks to the House Native American Affairs subcommittee had amazed some in Congress for their irresponsibility, not just fleetingly but over a full hour, as The Courant's David Lightman, who's still covering Washington politics for McClatchy, reported. Trump said it was "obvious" that the Mafia had infiltrated the native American casinos.

"An Indian chief is going to tell Joey Killer to please get off his reservation? It's unbelievable to me." Asked what an Indian looks like, he said, "You know…you know."

Cut to the present, and there have been no public allegations of organized crime at the Connecticut casinos.

Get the Story:
Dan Haar: The Connecticut Roots Of Trump's First Big Slur (The Hartford Courant 8/10)

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