Lankford Spokesperson: Pocahontas Is More Than A Cartoon Character Or Nickname

Nov 27, 2017

*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole.


A spokesperson for Sen. James Lankford, R-OK, says the Senator “does not appreciate Trump’s name-calling style of politics.” The comment comes after President Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, as “Pocahontas” in an Oval Office press conference commemorating Navajo Code Talkers in World War II.


"You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said, standing in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”



Lankford sits on the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Lankford spokesperson Aly Beley tells KGOU, “Lankford believes that leaders should demonstrate uniform respect for each other and have disagreements without personal attack.”


Congressman Tom Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, was at the press conference when Trump made the comment. In a statement, he said Trump is the first president to recognize Native American Code Talkers in the Oval Office and commended the president for a “gracious and thoughtful act.”   


However, Cole says referring to Warren as “Pocahontas” was "insensitive and unnecessary" during an event honoring the contributions of Native Americans.


“It is my hope that in the future we can all remain mindful of our Native communities and continue to respect their heritage and rights as fellow citizens of the United States,” Cole said. “It is also my hope that we can dial back the rhetoric in Washington, D.C. and refer to our partisan counterparts in language that is respectful and courteous.”


Nearly 500,000 Oklahomans identify themselves as either wholly or partially Native American, according to U.S. Census data.


“Pocahontas is a historical figure and more than a cartoon character or nickname, she is a hero to her people and her name deserves respect,” Beley said.


In a statement, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said the Navajo Nation does not want to engage in a dialogue between Warren and Trump. "In this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy," Begaye said.


White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in her daily press briefing on Monday, “Pocahontas” was not a racial slur and it “certainly was not the President’s intent” to use a racial slur.