A Palm Beach woman and Mar-a-Lago Club member who says she’s a descendant of Pocahontas says she doesn’t have a problem with President Donald Trump’s use of the name to disparage Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Debbie “White Dove” Porreco says she personally told then-candidate Trump this past year that his mentions of “Pocahontas” aren’t offensive.
“He asked me one time at Mar-a-Lago. He said, ‘Do you mind me using ‘Pocahontas’ for American Indians?’ I said, ‘It doesn’t bother me,’” Porreco said Wednesday.
“It’s just a term,” she said. “He’s not saying anything bad about Pocahontas, or bad about Native Americans … sometimes people read into things too much … they are just looking to say something bad about him.”
Porreco, who grew up Debbie White Dove Custalow, says she is descended from Pocahontas and grew up on the same grounds as the 17th-century native American known for her association with the colonial settlement of Jamestown, Va. — on what is now the Mattaponi Indian reservation in Virginia.
A 2003 obituary of Porreco’s father by Indian Country Media Network describes Mattaponi Chief Daniel Webster Little Eagle Custalow as “a descendant of Pocahontas and known by both Indian and non-Indian people for his spirituality.”
Trump has been criticized this week for referring to Warren as “Pocahontas” during a White House ceremony to honor Navajo Code Talkers, who transmitted secret messages during World War II by using codes based on their Native American languages.
Trump began calling Warren “Pocahontas” during his 2016 presidential campaign in an apparent attempt to mock her claim of having Native American ancestors.
Critics accused her during her 2012 Senate campaign of falsely claiming Native American ancestry to gain advantage as a law professor.
Warren said in her 2014 biography that she was raised to believe she had Native American ancestors and “never asked for special treatment when I applied to college, to law school, or for jobs.”
As for proving her ancestry, Warren wrote: “As a kid, I had learned about my Native American background the same way every kid learns about who they are: from family. I never questioned my family’s stories or asked my parents for proof or documentation. What kid would?”
Porreco, 63, is a member of the Trumpettes, a group of female Trump supporters formed in 2015. She joined Mar-a-Lago along with her husband, the late Lou Porreco, nearly 20 years ago.
She said she used to see Trump at Mar-a-Lago several times a year, but less often now that he is in the White House.
“He knew I was American Indian. He always has been very kind to me. Wayne Newton is my cousin and has done shows at Mar-a-Lago,” said Porreco.
Porreco said she admires Trump for speaking his mind.
“I know his heart. He says what he thinks. I think he’s a wonderful president. He’s really trying … he’s so strong. I don’t think any other human being could have endured what he’s enduring. That’s who we need as a president – someone who can stand up for what’s right.”
Porreco loves being a member at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club. “He’s done a wonderful job with it. It’s like you are part of his extended family, and he treats you like that.”
Porreco said she’s skeptical of Warren’s claim of Native American ancestry.
“I really don’t think she is,” Porreco said.
The White House and Warren’s office did not respond late Wednesday to requests for comment on Porreco’s remarks.