'Embarrassing racist': Native American leaders slam Rick Santorum for claiming 'nothing' was in the US before colonizers

'Embarrassing racist': Native American leaders slam Rick Santorum for claiming 'nothing' was in the US before colonizers
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Senator Rick Santorum speaking at the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa.

Leaders of multiple Native American organizations are slamming former lawmaker Rick Santorum for his remarks arguing that white European colonizers "birthed a nation from nothing" in America as he also claimed that "there isn't much Native American culture in American culture."

Now, CNN is facing calls to fire him, according to Talking Points Memo.

Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), lambasted the former Pennsylvania lawmaker for having what she describes as a "caveman mentality." She also called for CNN to fire Santorum for the controversial and offensive remarks.

"Before I correct the record, let me address Rick Santorum directly without mincing words: Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform," Sharp said in a statement.

In the statement, released on Tuesday, April 27, Fawn also insisted that the network has a serious decision to make. "Make your choice," Sharp said. "Do you stand with White Supremacists justifying Native American genocide, or do you stand with Native Americans?"

However, the backlash did not stop there. Santorum was also scorched by Native American leaders via Twitter. Shortly after his remarks aired, he was hit with a litany of critical responses. Tara Houska, the founder of Giniw Collective and a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, slammed Santorum as she explained why there is no longer "much Native culture in American culture."

She offered a brief list of the many economic issues that have contributed to Native culture being erased; many of which are currently impacting people of color across the board today.

"Not much Native culture in American culture … could that be because of America's colonial genocide, cultural genocide, displacement, systematic erasure, and dehumanization of Native peoples?" Houska tweeted. "We're still here. We aren't 'nothing,' we're why you're on this land. Read a book."

A Native American organization known as the IllumiNatives also unleashed a series of tweets slamming Santorum for his remarks as she pushed back against his claims about Native culture being non-existent in America.

"Rick Santorum is perpetuating a #myth that whitewashes American history & attempts to erase Native peoples," the group tweeted. "The contributions of Natives are everywhere. Our land, ways of being & systems of govt were, in fact, so important that they were stolen by the people who arrived here."

They added, "Despite attempts to erase us, we continue to thrive, speak our languages, practice our religion & preserve our cultures. American history that does not include Natives is a lie & Rick Santorum continues a long history of white supremacy by erasing the history of Native Americans."

The group also criticized CNN for giving Santorum a platform to speak.




The backlash comes just days after Santorum's offensive remarks which were made during a speech for the conservative organization Young America's Foundation last Friday.

At the time, he said, "We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here," he said. "I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn't much Native American culture in American culture."

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