Trying to have it both ways: Admits not a member of any tribe, but denies any wrongdoing.
Elizabeth Warren is doubling down on her claim to be Native American, and rejecting claims she misleadingly or falsely claimed that status, despite a mountain of evidence that Warren is NOT Native American and used that false claim to try to advance her law professor career.
The Boston Globe reports:
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a surprise appearance at the National Congress of American Indians Wednesday morning, forcefully responding to President Trump’s derisively calling her “Pocahontas” and addressing her claims of Native American heritage more directly — and far more expansively — than she ever has before.
The Massachusetts Democrat also made an impassioned pledge to advocate for issues of importance for Native Americans, an indication that she is planning stronger outreach to tribes.
She did not apologize for her claims that her mother’s family had Cherokee blood — instead, reaffirming: “My mother’s family was part Native American. And my daddy’s parents were bitterly opposed to their relationship. So, in 1932, when Mother was 19 and Daddy had just turned 20, they eloped.”
“The story they lived will always be a part of me,” she planned to say, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “And no one — not even the president of the United States — will ever take that part of me away.”
You can read the full text of Warren’s speech here.
Resurrects Debunked Parents’ Elopement Story
It’s interesting that Warren comes back to the story about her parents’ elopement, since that story has been substantially debunked.
I wrote about this in August 2012, Elizabeth Warren elopement story falls apart.
There are, however, documents recently uncovered by the Cherokee genealogical group which cast serious, if not conclusive, doubt on Warren’s elopement story. This is the same Cherokee group which has traced Warren’s ancestry with great detail, and demonstrated that Warren’s mother and her mother’s ancestors always were listed as White on census forms and all other known documentation.
The evidence is laid out at Twila Barnes’ website. Here is a summary:
Warren’s parents were married in 1932 in a church not far from their home town by a respected and prominent pastor, who was unlikely to have performed ceremonies for runaways seeking to elope. The witness on the marriage certificate was a family friend of Warren’s mother, not some stranger rounded up by the pastor at the last minute for an unexpected elopement.
The young couple then immediately returned home where their marriage was announced in the local paper in a celebratory fashion, with extensive descriptions of the prominence of the two families in the local business community. Perhaps most important, the announcement mentions that the marriage was a surprise to many of the young couple’s friends, but said nothing about it being a surprise to family.
The marriage of Donald Herring and Miss Pauline Reed, two of Wetumka’s most popular young people, came as a surprise to many of their friend when they returned from Holdenville late Saturday afternoon and announced their marriage.
Both of the young people were reared in Wetumka and are popular members of the younger set.
Specifically as to Warren’s mother, the announcement detailed:
Mrs. Herring is the daughter of H.G. Reed, building contractor of this city, and has always been prominent in the social and church activities of the younger people and being a gifted singer has identified herself with the music lovers of the community.
The announcement then indicated that the couple are returning separately to their respective colleges for the next semester, and concluded:
The Gazette joins a host of friends in wishing for these young people a long and happy life together.
… Nor is later evidence uncovered by the Cherokee group showing that Warren’s mother was not rejected in the father’s family. Warren’s mother attended the 25th wedding anniversary party for Warren’s paternal grandparents in 1936, just four years after the supposed elopement.
Because the events took place in a time and place where there was scant documentation of life, and because all the persons with first-hand knowledge were long dead by the time Warren told the story publicly, we cannot know conclusively about the circumstances of Warren’s parents’ marriage.
But what we can know is that the dramatic story told by Warren is inconsistent with the wedding announcement in the local newspaper.
Use In Career Advancement
The Globe further reports Warren denied using the Native American claim to advance her career:
Responding to critics who claim she used a minority status to gain prestigious law professorships, she said: “I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead. I never used it to advance my career.”
But in fact the evidence is clear that she made the claim to be Native American in a law professor directory in the 1980s used as a hiring device by law school deans, landing herself on a small list of “Minority Law Teachers.”
When Warren was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, she also was listed in the Women’s Law Journal as a “Woman of Color in Legal Academia,” presumably based on her claim to be Native American (there would have been no other explanation for referring to her as a woman of color):
Warren has never released, or asked Harvard Law to release, her entire hiring file. Yet soon after she joined Harvard Law full time as a tenured professor, Warren was touted by Harvard as its first Native American tenured professor. Tellingly, after getting tenure at Harvard, Warren stopped listing herself as Native American in the law professor directory — presumably because she didn’t need the help anymore, she had attained the top law professor achievement.
In a classic Warren dodge, in her speech she tried to turn the tables trying to accuse her accusers of wrongdoing, as the Globe reports:
“For far too long, your story has been pushed aside, to be trotted out only in cartoons and commercials,” she said. “So 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.”…
Warren’s move to more publicly address the issue had some similarities to former president Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign speeches about race — which followed criticism of his ties to the controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright — and to Mitt Romney’s 2007 speech about his Mormon faith. But Warren’s speech also appeared to be an attempt to defuse the controversy before it came under the full glare of a national presidential campaign….
Her remarks began with an extended rebuttal to Trump, who has reappropriated a Native American hero and tried to use it as a slur to refer to Warren.
“I’ve noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas,” Warren said. “So I figured, let’s talk about Pocahontas. Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived, and whose real story has been passed down to so many of you through the generations.”
This speech, and Warren’s attempt to deal with her Native American problem, is a good sign that Warren is planning to run for president. It’s something she can no longer ignore, particularly after The Boston Globe itself recently ran an article about it, as I covered in Warren’s “stubborn unwillingness” to apologize for Cherokee claim is “a ghost haunting” her.
No Apologies, No Regrets
The closest Warren came to an apology was this:
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.
While my first take on the speech was that there was a backhanded apology there, on second read that’s not the case. There is no apology whatsoever. She claims not to be a tribal member, but still claims Native American heritage. That’s a continuation of her lifelong dodge, trying to get the benefit of Native American status without being able to prove she is in fact Native American.
A simple “I’m sorry” would have been more persuasive. But it’s apparently something Warren is incapable of doing for such a key element of her life story.
UPDATE 2-15-2018, here is the video of Warren’s speech:DONATE
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