Ernie Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, has denounced “divisive” comments made by US President Donald Trump towards members of congress.
Trump had suggested four congresswomen of colour, namely representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, could “go back” to the countries from which they came. All, apart from Omar, were born in the US.
Trump later took to Twitter to defend himself: “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show “weakness” and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat…..”
The House of Representatives subsequently voted to pass house resolution 489, introduced by representative Tom Malinowski, which condemned the remarks and used a series of quotes from ex-Presidents and founding fathers.
The resolution states that the House of Representatives:
- Believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations.
- Is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin.
- Strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimised and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should “go back” to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as “invaders,” and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.
Stevens’ statement, issued following the passage of house resolution 489, can be read in full below:
“The National Indian Gaming Association denounces the comments directed towards respected female members of Congress. They are American citizens, duly elected by their fellow citizens, and they deserve better treatment from the office of the President. Coming off of a historic election where the first two female Native Americans were elected to the Congress, we should be honouring the strength of this country represented by one of the most diverse Congresses in this nation’s history.
“The idea of America would not have been possible if it weren’t for the fact that native nations welcomed the first European settlers fleeing their home countries for a better life. The original sin of slavery and hatred directed at groups of immigrants stunted our growth.
“For Indian country, the violation of treaties, theft of lands, and devastating genocide against native peoples left an indelible stain on the nation’s honour. The xenophobic federal policies of forced assimilation authorised the government-sanctioned separation of native children from their families where they were forbidden from speaking their language or practising their religion.
“Urging certain groups to return to their countries of origin conjures up the dark images of this nation’s past injustices and intolerance. Today’s United States of America is better than our past. We are a nation of diverse and multi-racial citizens who seek the common goal of equality and dignity as a united people.
“While our government has not always adhered to it, the foundation of the United States rests on a notion that all people are created equal with the ability to determine our own destiny.
“We owe it to all of our ancestors, indigenous and immigrant, to strive every day to live up to the inherent promise of our nation’s foundation: The United States is a home for all who strive for equality regardless of colour, sex or ethnicity. May the creator bless the United States of America and its enduring principles shared by all citizens of this great nation.”