Steve Bannon Gets a Much-Needed History Lesson From Native Americans

Bannon had an interesting reaction when reminded on “60 Minutes” that Native Americans were here first

The National Congress of American Indians kindly offered Steve Bannon a history lesson Monday after he blamed “leftists” for the notion that Native Americans were the first Americans.

The largest Native American advocacy group in the country said in a statement to TheWrap that indigenous people not only occupied the land that is now the United States of America long before Europeans, but also deserved much of the credit for the U.S. Constitution.

“‘America,’ a term Mr. Bannon uses to refer to the United States of America, owes its founding, its place, and its very survival to the original, Indigenous inhabitants of this land – the ‘First Americans,'” a spokeswoman for the organizations said. “America as a democratic society and government was modeled after the Great Law of Peace, the oral constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy.”

The statement continued: “America grew to its present size and strength by dispossessing Native peoples of their lands and resources against their will.” It also noted the contributions of Navajo code talkers who helped the U.S. win World War II.

“The truth is that we were peoples long before ‘We the People’ — certainly long before the term ‘leftist’ was even coined — and we remain vibrant peoples to this day, peoples who contribute immensely to making this country great.”

Bannon, former leader of the conservative Breitbart News, became the head of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in August and led him to an upset victory. He served as Trump’s chief strategist until his exit from the White House last month, when he returned to Breitbart.

Bannon’s ideology — and Trump’s campaign — were built largely around an “America first” ideology that is suspicious of Muslim influence and aims to restrict immigrants from illegally crossing the U.S.’s borders. Critics accuse the movement of racism and xenophobia.

Bannon had a head-scratching response on “60 Minutes” Sunday when Charlie Rose reminded him that all Americans, except Native Americans, are immigrants.

The former White House strategist objected to Rose saying that “people have been able to come here, find a place, contribute to the economy. That’s what immigration has been in America.”

Bannon said he was “dead wrong,” insisting that “America was built on her citizens.”

“We’re all immigrants,” Rose replied, quickly adding: “Except the Native Americans.”

 Bannon’s response? “Don’t, don’t, g- don’t- don’t.”

“Who were here?” Rose interjected.

“Don’t- don’t give me- this is the thing of the leftists,” Bannon responded. “Charlie, that’s beneath you. America’s built on our sys- on our citizens.”

Bannon did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Read NCAI’s full statement below:

“‘America,’ a term Mr. Bannon uses to refer to the United States of America, owes its founding, its place, and its very survival to the original, Indigenous inhabitants of this land – the ‘First Americans.’ America as a democratic society and government was modeled after the Great Law of Peace, the oral constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy. America grew to its present size and strength by dispossessing Native peoples of their lands and resources against their will. America has persisted to this day because of the invaluable contributions that Native people have made, such as the unbreakable code of the Navajo code talkers that helped turn World War II in this country’s favor. The truth is that we were peoples long before ‘We the People’ — certainly long before the term ‘leftist’ was even coined — and we remain vibrant peoples to this day, peoples who contribute immensely to making this country great.”