Published February 15, 2017
WASHINGTON – The following statement was released by a newly formed group called Indigenous Women Rise following President Trump referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas during a meeting at the White House last Thursday:
President Trump recently resurrected his racist ‘nickname’ for Senator Elizabeth Warren, referring to her as “Pocahontas”. Reducing Native and Indigenous women and girls to one word, one name – Pocahontas – is a blatant act of racism. Reducing any group of people to a single descriptor deploys a racist trope that creates a subhuman mindset toward them, making it easy to dismiss their rights and voice.
As Indigenous women, we understand the harms of a colonial legacy that perpetuates and normalizes racism directed at Native and Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous communities have been historically stricken with harmful stereotypes, often reducing us to subhuman caricatures. However, as Indigenous Women we Rise to say, “Enough is enough!”
These stereotypes make it easy for the government and people to overlook when our women and girls start to go missing. They make it easy to overlook when our youth suicide rates are some of the highest in the nation. An international study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shows that Indigenous girls, adolescents and young women face a higher prevalence of violence, labor exploitation, and harassment, and are more vulnerable to sexual violence than any other group of women. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime while more than 1 in 3 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in the past year. In Canada, Indigenous women are almost three times more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Indigenous women. Suicide is the second leading cause of death and 2.5 times the national rate for American Indian/Alaskan Native youth in the 15-24 age group.
In January of 2017, the Indigenous Women Rise (IWR) collective was formed. We are made up of strong Indigenous women leaders from across the United States who stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, our families and our communities. We are women who have real names, history and an ancestry in this land that deserves respect. The IWR collective marched together in the Women’s March on D.C. We marched to raise awareness of violence against the earth, access to health care, and violence against women. We joined together to show the world that we are still here, still resilient, and still strong.
President Trump’s bullying and name-calling of Senator Elizabeth Warren is deplorable and we demand an apology to Native and Indigenous Peoples.