Fresh on the heels of President Trump’s “Pocahontas” quip in front of Navajo veterans—a reference to Elizabeth Warren’s 2016 claim of Native American heritage—the President was overheard telling members of the National Auto Dealers’ Association (NADA) Monday afternoon that his nickname for his 1982 Jeep Wagoneer was “Sacajawea” in honor of the famed Shoshoni Native American guide who helped Lewis & Clark navigate the most difficult parts of their early 19thcentury expedition.
“Old Sac got me through some tough times,” he told the group at an informal breakfast in New York City. “One time I had to get all the way across Long Island to meet some friends for brunch in Montauk. I mean, talk about the middle of nowhere Redneckville!” he said, in reference to the harrowing five-hour ordeal he previously outlined in his ghostwritten 1987 autobiography, The Art of the Deal. “That thing was so big and fat, it might as well have been a pregnant chick, so the analogy works.”
Jeep’s parent company, FCA North America, quickly distanced itself from the statement via Twitter, saying “We condemn President Trump’s anecdote in the strongest possible terms,” later adding “1980s Jeeps were nowhere near as reliable as Sacagawea. Maybe the 1940s models were, though.”
The FCA addendum sparked yet another firestorm among Native American groups who did not appreciate the personification of vehicles used in an imperialist effort that was reminiscent of the European conquest of North America. Auto enthusiasts from Oklahoma native groups went as far as to offer the President of FCA, Sergio Marchionne, the honorary title “Chief Ranwhenparked” – a slight that was directed at FCA’s current reputation as the least reliable mainstream brand in America. The statement closed by saying “Our people were ‘Trail-Rated’ long before your products. Just ask Andrew Jackson.”
The furor quickly went viral among diverse groups around the country. Left-wing protest conglomerate Antifa quickly mobilized demonstrators from unemployment offices and colleges around the country, demanding FCA and Trump both retract their statements and issue an apology, plus $500 billion dollars in reparations, to Native American groups. Right-wing groups simultaneously organized counter-protests, demanding the removal of Sacajawea dollars from circulation and pushing for textbook revisions stating that Lewis & Clark completed their journey with nothing but “their own superior European instinct.”
The NADA has largely remained silent on the issue, insisting in a post on its website that it is an apolitical organization that does not wish to comment on the firestorm, only adding “We support the First Amendment right for everyone to express their thoughts in a fair and equitable manner, provided it doesn’t undermine the norms of civil society or harm our dealers’ freedom to engage in four-square, front-loaded interest, racial profiling, and/or usury lending practices.”