Sen. Elizabeth Warren — often derided as “Pocahontas” by Donald Trump — made a surprise appearance Wednesday before the National Congress of American Indians in Washington to address the controversial nickname head-on.
“I’ve noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas. So I figured, let’s talk about Pocahontas,” said the Massachusetts Democrat. “Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived.”
Trump’s use of the nickname stems from the fact that Warren made a questionable claim — on a law school directory — that she had Native American heritage. He even took a dig at her, using the nickname, during a recent ceremony honoring a group of Native American code talkers who served the U.S. military during World War II.
Warren went on to highlight the fact-based story of Pocahontas, who is often portrayed in contemporary American stories as a beautiful woman who saved the life of John Smith, an English colonialist. In reality, Pocahontas was about 10 years old in 1608 when Smith would have met her — and his story of their meeting has been widely debunked by historians. Pocahontas married the English settler John Rolfe and died of disease in London.
Warren said that her mother, whose family is “part Native American,” and father eloped at age 19 and 20, respectively, against her grandparents’ wishes. She then promised to use Trump’s fondness of the racist nickname “Pocahontas” to uplift the stories of Native Americans.
“Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities,” Warren said. “Your story is about contributions. The contributions you make to a country that took so much and keeps asking for more, contributions like serving in the military at rates higher than any other group in America.”
Warren is among the most famous senators in the United States, and she is widely believed to be considering a presidential run in 2020 to unseat Trump.
Cover: Sen. Elizabeth Warren asks questions during testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 23, 2018. (Ron Sachs/CNP Photo by: Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)