Navajo Nation president: Yes, Trump quip is an ethnic slur

President Trump's use of the name "Pocahontas" to refer to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Warren spends big on staff in high-stakes 2020 gamble On The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost MORE (D-Mass.) is an ethnic slur, the president of the Navajo Nation said Tuesday.

In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Russell Begaye said that Trump's use of the term repeatedly in the past as well as on Monday during an event honoring Navajo Code Talkers was “uncalled for.”

“I feel that the way it was used, yes, it was [a racial slur],” Begaye told CNN.

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“Pocahontas is a real person," he continued. "It’s not a caricature. It’s not something that’s just made up. This is a person, a young lady and Native American woman, that played a critical role in the life of this nation. And to use that person in that way is unnecessary and being culturally insensitive.”

Trump made the remark Monday at the White House, standing alongside several veterans.

"You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said beneath a portrait of President Andrew Jackson. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her 'Pocahontas.'”

Begaye said insults directed at Trump's Democratic opponents had no place at a White House event honoring heroes of World War II. During the war, Navajo Code Talkers served throughout the Pacific theater as part of Allied communications units.

“This was a day to honor them, and to insert something like that — the word ‘Pocahontas’ as a jab to a senator — you know, that belongs on the campaign trail,” he added. “That doesn’t belong in the room when our war heroes are being honored.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump on Monday, saying that the remark was not intended as an ethnic slur and that the real controversy was Warren's claim of Native American heritage.

“I think what most people find offensive is Sen. Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career," Sanders told reporters.