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Trump offends tribes with ‘Pocahontas’ comment

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North Dakota Republican delegates stand behind Donald Trump at his press conference in Bismarck on Thursday, May 26, 2016. (Dustin Monke / Forum News Service) 2 / 2

BISMARCK – Some Native Americans in attendance Thursday at Donald Trump’s North Dakota speech say a comment he made about “Pocahontas” during a press conference was racist and he should apologize.

Trump, who spent about 30 minutes with local and national media prior to speaking at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, referencing a 2012 controversy about how she described her heritage.

Nicole Robertson, a Native American writer who was attending the oil conference doing communications work with the Three Affiliated Tribes, told Trump during the press conference, “That’s very offensive.”

Trump replied: “Oh, I’m sorry about that. Pocahontas? Is that what I just said?”

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenAfter the press conference, Robertson said Native Americans are fighting against stereotyping and derogatory remarks.

“We don’t go out of our way to call people anything,” said Robertson, who owns a media company and is based in Calgary, Alberta. “To me, that sort of shows the leadership of somebody and their character. I really believe that today was very telling.”

Three Affiliated Tribes Councilman Ken Hall, who was working with Robertson during the oil industry conference, said Thursday that Trump should explain himself or apologize.

“We’re in 2016. We’re not living in the 1800s anymore. We’re professional people. We’re accomplished people. We’re proud people,” said Hall, who was representing Missouri River Resources at the conference. “And these kinds of remarks don’t sit well with us.”

Hall’s wife, Currie Hall, said she was uncertain what the context was, but she thinks it was particularly offensive to make the comment in North Dakota, home to five Native American reservations.

“It’s racist. It’s absolutely racist. It’s unacceptable,” Currie Hall said. “I think the (oil) industry that we work so closely with would agree that it’s really highly inappropriate, especially for someone who’s seeking that office.”

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