Last night, President Donald Trump invoked the massacre at Wounded Knee to mock an Instagram Live video that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made after announcing her candidacy for president.
In it, Warren drinks a beer, a behavior that got mocked by many of her detractors. That was on Jan. 2. On Sunday, Trump decided to tweet about it by using one of the greatest atrocities ever committed by the United States military to help crack a joke.
“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash,” Trump wrote.
If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash! pic.twitter.com/D5KWr8EPan— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
(He had to delete his first attempt at a joke, after leaving out a comma.)
The Wounded Knee massacre occurred in South Dakota, in 1890, where at least 150 and possibly up to 300 Lakota were killed after U.S. soldiers opened fire at an encampment while trying to disarm the tribespeople. In 1990, Congress passed a resolution expressing “deep regret” for the behavior of the government that day.
Trump also referenced the Battle of Little Bighorn, where U.S. Army forces, led by General George Custer, were beaten back by Native Americans, and 268 U.S. soldiers were killed.
That Trump would so flippantly invoke these two battles between the U.S. Army and Native Americans is shocking. But at the same time, it’s possible those are the only Native American phrases he knows.
And Trump, whose wife once went a month without being seen and stayed in Manhattan at the beginning of his presidency, also took a shot at Warren for thanking her husband for “being there” in the video.
Best line in the Elizabeth Warren beer catastrophe is, to her husband, “Thank you for being here. I’m glad you’re here” It’s their house, he’s supposed to be there!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
Trump’s decision to tweet about Wounded Knee also comes as the government shutdown enters its fourth week, which disproportionally affects Native Americans, who rely on government services for day-to-day life.