TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Pocahontas? Name-calling Demeans Native Vets

Mr. President: Are there any limits to the shame you bring upon your office?

At a ceremony Nov. 27 at the White House, you were on hand to honor the remarkable courage and invaluable contributions of Native American code talkers during World War II.

Three code talkers were present at the White House, representing the 10 other living code talkers who were unable to join them, as well as hundreds of others from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, Lakota, Meskwaki, Mohawk, Navajo, Tlingit and other tribes who served.

The code talkers used their native languages to share coded messages at a time when the U.S. military desperately needed a code that the Japanese could not crack. It was a resounding success.

The ceremony was also planned to honor the service and bravery of all Native veterans, along with others from Indian Country who currently serve our nation.

Here’s a little-known fact: Native people serve in the Armed Forces at a higher rate than any other group in the country. They have served in every war in this nation’s history.

To add further insult, the ceremony was conducted in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The act is the federal law that provided for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the states or territories and for their removal west of the Mississippi River. It called for the removal of all American Indians from east of the Mississippi River to reservations in Oklahoma Territory.

In front of the brave veterans you were supposedly there to honor, Mr. President, you demeaned them and your office by attempting to insult Sen. Elizabeth Warren by referring to her in a demeaning manner as “Pocahantas.” (Incidentally, she had nothing at all to do with the ceremony and was not present.)

Perhaps you confused the Disney cartoon with the real, historic woman of that name, who to this day holds significant value to her family and her tribe, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe in Virginia. The Pamunkey struck a treaty with the British Crown in the 1600s. Just last year, they were finally officially recognized as a federally recognized tribe by the U.S. after a decades-long struggle.

Your words using the memory of this outstanding nonwhite woman to demean a political opponent were an insult to all tribes, all women and Sen. Warren herself.

Of course, we should not be surprised that this president would use nonwhites and women as his foils. He has a long record of doing so.

God bless those Native heroes whose ceremony of honor was diminished by his childish name-calling. I hope they understand that the president did not represent the feelings of a grateful nation.

* * *

It is no secret that I was a fan of former Fargo Chief of Police Keith Ternes and am less so of his replacement. It should therefore come as no surprise that I personally oppose the treatment that has now been accorded former Fargo Police Officer David Boelke and his attorney, Mark Friese.

(Boelke was fired by the department; the firing was upheld by the Civil Service Commission.

On Monday, he and his attorney addressed the Fargo City Commission, asking that he be allowed instead to resign, thus preserving his record and future employment possibilities. The request was denied by a vote of 2 to 3.

Friese properly raised the issue of conflict of interest in the case of the office of city attorney and properly presented his case. The city’s claim he did something improper is pure nonsense.

The commission’s two Tonys — Gehrig and Grindberg — had the guts to consider allowing Boelke to resign to preserve his reputation. Apparently Commissioner John Strand may have also been leaning in that direction until the current chief of police intimated or perhaps stated (I don’t know which) that if they allowed him to resign, they’d be dissing the department (my term, not his). Strand ultimately stayed with the majority and upheld Boelke’s firing.

My best guess is that the courts will in fact follow the lead of Attorney Friese and restore this good man’s reputation.

Had I been on the City Commission under the circumstances as I know them, and had the chief made that subtle threat to me, he’d be job hunting in an instant — but I’m not, and he didn’t. Amen.

4 thoughts on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Pocahontas? Name-calling Demeans Native Vets”

  • Diana Esta Green December 1, 2017 at 6:47 am

    I find it impossible to use the name of president concerning this person.

    1. Diana Esta Green December 1, 2017 at 6:49 am

      There’s a few other “names” I like to call out, but have better things to do with my mind.

  • Thomas A. Davies December 2, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Diana Esta Green, I have the same problem.

  • alretz January 12, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Trump is an insult to all veterans along with all of the people who voted for him, in addition Ternes was a punk years before he became police chief and he deserves nothing but scorn, interesting how his fellow officers supported him for so long but now it’s convenient for them to complain…….


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