Ryan Winn: Donald Trump owes an apology to the first Americans

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. Photo from Facebook

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump recently expressed regrets for saying "the wrong thing" but didn't mention anything about his volatile history with Indian Country. Ryan Winn, an award-winning tribal college instructor, thinks Native voters should demand more from the controversial candidate:
Donald Trump wants minorities to vote for him. He’s reaching out to different races that he’s described as “living in poverty” in neighborhoods that are “more dangerous than war zones.” He repeatedly followed his assessments by implying his policies could elevate their quality of life. The presidential hopeful has even asked minorities in multiple states to vote for him based upon the question, "What do you have to lose?" Attempting to appeal to diverse voters is a strategic pivot for the unfiltered Trump who infamously labeled Mexicans as “rapists,” proposed a wall between the United States and Mexico, and has floated the idea of Muslim internment camps. Yet the brazen candidate tried to prove the sincerity of his new inclusive approach when he announced mid-August that, "Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that – and, believe it or not, I regret it." While both Trump and his campaign surrogates have declined to specify instances that the candidate was referring to, the Native American voters he’s courting should demand he first apologize for his insults of Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Warren and Trump have no love lost between them. They each have very different visions for America’s future. Yet while they both don’t mince words when dismissing each other, this summer Trump went too far when he repeatedly chided Warren by calling her “Pocahontas”—an attack on Warren’s alleged but undocumented Native American heritage. The assaults on Warren’s ethnicity are not a new tactic. During her first senatorial campaign, her opponent’s supporters charged that then Professor Warren, committed ethnic fraud and tricked Harvard Law School into hiring her byway of Affirmative Action protocols. Warren explained in her book, A Fighting Chance, that while she has no proof of her ancestry, her mother was raised in what was then Indian Territory, Oklahoma and that her father’s family disowned him for marrying her biracial mother. More to the point, Harvard’s hiring committee told the media in 2012 that they didn’t know about Warren’s background when they offered her a position on their faculty, and therefore the claims that she used her alleged tribal dissent to gain favor were without merit.

Read More:
Ryan Winn: Why Donald Trump’s ‘Regrets’ Must Be Specific (Indian Country Today 9/11)

Republican Party Platform Documents:
2016: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2012: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2008: Supporting Native American Communities | 2004: Native Americans | 2000: Native Americans

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