Clinton’s ‘off the reservation’ remark triggers anger for Native Americans, disbelief in others

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Hillary Clinton has extended the peace pipe and apologized for offending Native Americans.

The Democratic presidential front-runner, in remarks about GOP front-runner Donald Trump on April 29, said that she’s used to dealing with men who “get off the reservation.” The comment triggered outrage among Native American advocates, not to mention derision from critics of her highly-lucrative involvement with the Clinton Foundation that she operates with serially-unfaithful husband Bill.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. /AP
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. /AP

Rob Capriccioso, bureau chief for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C., wrote in a statement to NPR: “I bristle when I hear the phrase because many of the people who use it nonchalantly have likely never thought about its origin, nor have they probably ever visited a reservation.”

The phrase refers to Native Americans who literally wandered off reservations – against the laws of the time.

“I find it very disappointing. Anyone with a true understanding of the fundamental issues facing tribal communities today would never use that phrase in that context,” said Nicole Willis, National Tribal Outreach Director for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton campaign political director Amanda Renteria tweeted that the expression “has some offensive roots.”

“Divisive language has no place in our politics,” wrote Renteria, whose Twitter feed included posts by followers offended by Clinton’s comment. “Meant no disrespect to Native Americans.”

The former secretary of state used the phrase in response to a question from CNN’s Jake Tapper about how she plans to deal with the frequent personal attacks of Trump.

“I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak,” Clinton told Tapper.