Native-American GOP Congressman Calls Steele’s ‘Honest Injun’ Comments ‘Unacceptable’

On Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele attracted considerable attention for a controversial term he used on Fox News:

STEELE:Our platform is one of the best political documents that’s been written in the last 25 years. Honest Injun on that. It speaks to some core conservative principles on the value of family, faith, life, economics. Those principles don’t change.

Watch it:

Today, ThinkProgress received a statement from Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) in response to Steele’s remarks:

It’s unacceptable. And while I’m certain Chairman Steele didn’t intend it that way, it’s an offensive phrase in the Native American community.

Cole’s condemnation of Steele is significant, not only because he is a fellow Republican, but also because he is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation and the only Native American serving in the House. Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus, has also demanded that Steele apologize: “His insensitive comment undermines and threatens to reverse the progress we have made to correct those wrongs.”


Leeanne Root of Indian Country Today writes that a public apology from Steele — who has been blanketing the media to promote his book — is “well overdue.” “Steele’s use of this racist phrase — on a widely viewed national program, no less — disrespects a community that works hard to educate about the true history of the United States and wants to participate in its productive future,” she writes.


The head of the Native American Journalists Association is also calling on Steele to apologize for his “scurrilous tongue” and using “uneducated archaic racist remarks.”