Elizabeth Warren’s surprise address this month on her disputed Native American heritage was just one piece of a concerted campaign by the Massachusetts senator and potential 2020 hopeful to put the controversy behind her.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Elizabeth Warren pretended to have “Cherokee blood” in order to get a cushy diversity job at Harvard which paid her $400,000 per year. Then when Donald Trump called her out on it, because she is not Native American in at even the smallest DNA level, there was a Liberal firestorm calling ‘foul’. So now Warren, to get people to forget about all that truthiness, has launched a massive campaign to make nice with the real Native Americans, and she is using the Democrat’s favorite tool to do it with. Free stuff, free stuff…and more free stuff.
Derisively nicknamed “Pocahontas” by President Donald Trump over allegations that she used claims of Native American heritage to get a head start in her job search — a claim she and former colleagues strongly deny — Warren has met with close to a dozen tribal leaders and prominent activists recently.
She has also signed onto at least six bills directly related to Native American policy. It’s clearly an organized effort: Four of those co-sponsorships came within two days of her speech, and Warren endorsed two bills around that time even though they’d been introduced months earlier.
It comes as Warren considers a run for the White House in 2020. Her Feb. 14 address to the National Congress of American Indians was widely praised by conference attendees, and her allies viewed it as an important step forward for a potential candidate who had faced unexpectedly harsh criticism from both Republicans and some liberal activists over her claims of Cherokee and Delaware heritage despite a lack of documentation — a reality she acknowledged in the speech and her private conversations with Native American leaders.
Now, Warren and her backers are hoping to move beyond the argument entirely and spin it into a positive. The aim is to neutralize what’s seen as an Achilles’ heel for a potential national bid, turning wary activists into allies.
“Her speech was, in many ways, long overdue. It was a great opportunity for her to tell her story,” said Rion Ramirez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Native American Council, who sat down with Warren the day before she addressed the NCAI. “Unfortunately, her president tries to define what her story is. And it’s not his story to tell.”
“It’s ridiculous that a non-Indian man, that’s our president, tries to sit there and define who is and who isn’t Native,” he added.
Still, the sudden flurry of activity on Native American issues opens Warren to accusations that her maneuvers simply reflect a political scramble to mitigate an issue that’s made her vulnerable in the past.
When the first-term lawmaker surprised the NCAI by appearing onstage this month, she acknowledged her own controversy before framing herself as an ally of Native Americans in their fight for fair treatment.
“I get why some people think there’s hay to be made here: You won’t find my family members on any rolls, and I’m not enrolled in a tribe. And I want to make something clear: I respect that distinction, I understand that tribal membership is determined by tribes, and only by tribes. I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead; I never used it to advance my career,” she said, diving into a personal history that few outside Massachusetts had heard her tell before, and addressing the Pocahontas nickname she has long decried as racist.
“I’m here today to make a promise: Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities.”
GOP leaders have continued using her claims of Native heritage to make the case that Warren is not who she says she is. They allege she misrepresented herself to get a job at a time that Harvard — where she landed — was struggling with diversity. The Republican National Committee even knocked Warren for not attending NCAI just before she made her surprise appearance.
“Fauxcahontas MIA From Major Native American Summit,” read one email sent by the RNC to reporters, detailing her history of claiming Native ancestry.
It’s not just a Republican attack: Liberal Native American activists have also criticized Warren. They argue she hasn’t gone far enough in explaining her claimed ties to the culture and needs to do more work for their communities. One, Rebecca Nagle, wrote in a November ThinkProgress post, “She is not from us. She does not represent us. She is not Cherokee.” source