On Nov. 27, President Donald Trump held a White House ceremony honoring Native Americans in front of former President Andrew Jackson's portrait (video below).
Trump was praising the bravery of World War II Navajo "code-talkers," who helped confound the Nazis and Japan using code from their native language, CNN reports.
But for some, his message was lost in translation, The Washington Post reports. Trump honored them in front of "Indian killer" Jackson, a president Trump has previously gone to great lengths to defend and commend.
"It’s an incredibly distasteful wink in front of people who have sacrificed so much," said Gyasi Ross, an attorney and author from Washington and member of the Blackfeet Nation tribe. "Donald Trump is not a stupid man. He understands visuals and optics: His background is in television. So all of that stuff, I believe, is very deliberate."
Jackson signed the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which forcibly removed more than 60,000 Native Americans from their land. The act led to the infamous "Trail of Tears," during which more than 4,000 Cherokees died.
"Established in the midst of a superior race, they must disappear," Jackson once said of the Cherokee.
"[Removing them would] enable them to pursue happiness in their own way, and under their own rude institutions," he added.
Trump also outraged many when he mocked Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at the event, calling her "Pocahontas."
"You were here long before any of us were here," Trump told the honorees. "Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas."
Warren, who is listed as Native American in an Association of American Law Schools directory, quickly reprimanded Trump for the "racial slur."
"It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur," said Warren said in an interview on MSNBC.
"Donald Trump does this over and over, thinking somehow he's going to shut me up with it. It hadn't worked in the past it is not going to work in the future," she added.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the Pocahontas comment, but did not respond to questions about the Jackson portrait, reports the Daily Mail.
"I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career," said Sanders.
"I don't think that it is a racial slur to use the term Pocahontas," she added.