Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
When Senator Elizabeth Warren formally announced her 2020 presidential bid this weekend, President Trump responded with a familiar line of attack.
He mocked Ms. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, for her claims to Native American ancestry, again calling her by the slur “Pocahontas.” Mr. Trump then appeared to refer to the Trail of Tears, the infamously cruel forced relocation of Native Americans in the 19th century that caused thousands of deaths.
“Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore?” Mr. Trump tweeted. “See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”
(Ms. Warren had recently apologized to the Cherokee Nation for taking a DNA test to prove her ancestry.)
The comments drew immediate blowback on social media, with accusations that the president was making light of one of the worst tragedies Native Americans have experienced. Mr. Trump previously invoked the Wounded Knee massacre, one of the deadliest attacks on Native American people by the United States military, in another jab at Ms. Warren.
“He actually is condoning a narrative that supports a genocide and a forced removal,” said Betsy Theobald Richards, who works on changing cultural narratives for The Opportunity Agenda, a social justice organization.
Ms. Richards, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, said most people have been taught only the “dominant narrative” of history in the United States, which she said has long devalued the experiences and voices of Native American people.
“People don’t really realize these are real people who live among you,” she said. “These are their ancestors that are survivors, or carry on the memory of the people who were massacred or removed.”
For those who need a refresher, here is a brief history of the Trail of Tears:
What is the Trail of Tears?
In the 1830s, federal and state officials forced thousands of Native Americans from their land in the southeastern United States, including Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The forced relocation affected thousands…
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