United States President Donald Trump on Monday made a racial joke about Native Americans during a ceremony to honour World War II veterans of the Navajo tribe at the White House, CNN reported.

Addressing the veterans, Trump taunted Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren and called her Pocahontas. “You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump told the veterans. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”

The three ageing Navajo “code talkers”, who had helped keep allied operations secret during the war, did not crack a smile.

Trump was speaking from a podium beneath a portrait of former US President Andrew Jackson, who had ordered the forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral land in 1830, which had led to thousands of them dying.

Trump has repeatedly mocked Warren over her claim of Cherokee ancestry by calling her “Pocahontas,” who was the daughter of a Native American leader in the 17th century. Her legacy was romanticised in a Disney film called Pocahontas. Many Conservatives have repeatedly criticised Warren for allegedly exaggerating her Native American ancestry to further her career.

“It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honouring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur,” Warren said. The leader from Massachusetts said that Trump would not be able to shut her up in this manner.

The White House denied that Trump’s remarks were a racial slur, and claimed that Warren “lying” about her ancestry “was offensive”.