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Over 200 Native Americans Demand Elizabeth Warren Retract Her Family Lore Stories About Being Cherokee

Over 200 Native Americans Demand Elizabeth Warren Retract Her Family Lore Stories About Being Cherokee

“Like many other white families, your family story of Cherokee and Delaware ancestry is false and it was wrong for you to repeat it as an adult. You have had the genealogical evidence since 2012. Stating you do not qualify for citizenship is not enough; the truth is you and your ancestors are white.”

Elizabeth Warren is not Native American, and never claimed to be Native American until her mid-30s when she made that claim for employment purposes while climbing the law professor ladder to Harvard Law School.

From the moment Warren was outed in late April 2012, she bobbed and weaved to avoid answering hard questions about why she claimed to be minority and Native American. As this May 2012 interview reflected, Warren stuck to talking points trying to divert the issue.

Warren never associated with Native Americans, never affiliated with a tribe, never helped Native Americans, and never lived as a Native American. When the issue did not go away, Warren defended her claim to be Native American by relying on stories her parents and other family members supposedly told her.

The key family lore story, that Warren’s parents had to elope because her white father’s family would not accept her Native American mother, has been cast into serious doubt by contemporaneous documentation of the wedding. The Aunt Bea “high cheekbones” story also is suspect.

Genealogical research going back almost 200 years of Warren’s family tree, conducted by a group of Cherokee geneaologists led by Twila Barnes, proved that Warren had no Native American ancestry going as far back as records were available.

When those Cherokee genealogists traveled to Boston in June 2012 to meet with Warren and provide her with the evidence, Warren refused to meet with them, instead blaming a right-wing consipracy.

Warren stuck to her claim of family lore and being Native American for almost 7 years, even going so far in the fall of 2018 to roll out a DNA test in order to quell the continuing controversy. That was a disaster. Not only did the DNA test show a potentially miniscule (1/2014th) percentage of possibly Native American DNA, it offended Native American groups who reject DNA as a test of whether someone is Native American.

The DNA rollout almost collapsed Warren’s presidential campaign, so Warren began to issue carefully worded apologies which did not actually apologize for Warren’s own deceptive conduct. Instead, the apologies were worded around acknowledgeing that she was not a member of a Tribe. Warren has stuck to that non-apology apology ever since.

To date, Warren has never acknowledge that her family lore stories were false.

Now a group of 214 Native Americans, including 143 Cherokee, have demanded not only that Warren issue a complete apology, but also that she retract her family lore stories as false. The Los Angeles Times (archived) was the first to report on this Open Letter:

More than 200 Cherokees and other Native Americans have signed a letter urging Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren to fully retract her past claims to being Native and help dispel false beliefs held by many white people that they have American Indian ancestry….

The criticism comes at an awkward time for Warren. The Massachusetts senator did not win any of the first three states in the nominating calendar and faces an uphill battle in the South Carolina primary this Saturday….

But the authors of the letter — Cherokee Nation citizens Daniel Heath Justice, Joseph Pierce, Rebecca Nagle and Twila Barnes — called those [Warren] apologies “vague and inadequate.” They say she needs to state clearly that family stories she heard were false, and that it is wrong to use DNA tests to determine Native American identity.

“As the most public example of this behavior, you need to clearly state that Native people are the sole authority on who is — and who is not — Native,” wrote the authors, who are Cherokee citizens but don’t speak on behalf of the tribe….

Barnes, one of the letter’s coauthors, said in an interview that she and other Cherokees often encounter Warren supporters who insist that the DNA test proved Warren’s claims and that her recounting of family history was harmless.

“It’s totally misrepresenting who Cherokees are and ignoring our voices in it,” Barnes said. “There are so many people using our Cherokee identity to defraud or trick other people for their own benefit. It’s just an incredibly huge problem.”

Here are excerpts from the Open Letter:

… Senator Warren, as you seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, your history of false claims to American Indian identity and the defense of these claims with a highly publicized DNA test continue to dog your political career….

You have yet to fully address the harm you have caused. While your apologies are a step in the right direction, they have been vague and inadequate. Accountability is not just admitting you made a mistake, but working to correct the harm it caused. A recent collective statement by Cherokee scholars makes clear that any person who publicly identifies as Cherokee has initiated an open discussion about their identity. As a Harvard professor and U.S. Senator, you have the unique opportunity to turn this controversy into a needed learning moment.

As Native community members, academics, activists, scientists, writers, organizers, aunties, uncles, young people, and tribal citizens concerned about the future of Native rights, we call on you to make a clear public statement that includes the following:

• Like many other white families, your family story of Cherokee and Delaware ancestry is false and it was wrong for you to repeat it as an adult. You have had the genealogical evidence since 2012. Stating you do not qualify for citizenship is not enough; the truth is you and your ancestors are white.
• Equating Cherokee identity with the results of a DNA test was more than a misstep—it was dangerous. Your supporters and the public need to understand why. We ask that you explain that only tribal affiliation and kinship determine Native identity, and that equating Native identity with race and biology erodes the foundation of Indigenous sovereignty.
• Claiming Native identity without citizenship, kinship ties, or recognition from Native communities undermines Indigenous self-determination. As the most public example of this behavior, you need to clearly state that Native people are the sole authority on who is—and who is not—Native.

… You have done some good things for Indian Country during your time in political service. You have also done real harm. Right now, you have the platform and the opportunity to stand firmly on the side of justice. This is not about politics or your career. This is about the well-being of our nations. The time has come for you to show true leadership and make this right.

Warren wrote a 12-page response. As before, Warren (or more likely her campaign communications staff) carefully words the apology to focus on tribal citizenship standards rather than her own deceptive conduct. Warren apologizes for the “harm” she had caused, but not her own deceptive actions in claiming to be Native American for employment purposes and then defending it for almost 7 years after she was exposed:

… I am not a person of color; I am a white woman, and that is how I identify. In addition, I am not a tribal citizen. Tribal Nations—and only Tribal Nations—determine tribal citizenship. It’s their right as a matter of sovereignty, and they exercise that in the ways they choose to exercise it…. And I understand that the confusion my actions propagated around tribal sovereignty and citizenship caused real harm to Native people and communities. I was wrong to have identified as a Native American, and, without qualification or excuse, I apologize for the harm I caused….

Your letter noted that I “still defend [my]self by stating [I] believed what [I] heard growing up.” But when I talk about my family story now, I am offering an explanation, not a defense. Many people do not know that I—an elected official from Massachusetts— grew up in Oklahoma, or that mybrothers and I had been told family stories. This is important context—important to fully understanding what I did, why I did it, and why I have apologized repeatedly….

As I said, I believe in accountability, but accountability is a methodology—not an ideology. It means little to believe in it if we do not practice it, so I am grateful for your willingness to hold me accountable and for the opportunity to have had this courageous conversation. I know this kind of engagement only happens with people you expect more from, and I am grateful to be one of
those people. Please continue to expect more from me, and I will continue to dedicate myself to living up to it.

Warren’s reply is another non-apology apology. She used her supposed family lore as a defense for almost 7 years, and it’s doubful much of it ever even was told. If Warren truly had this family lore, then you would have expected her to act as if she believed she was Native American, by identifying as Native American when she applied for college and law school and by associating with Native Americans. But she didn’t do any of those things. Warren’s failure to identify as Native American until it could help her law professor career proves either that the family lore never happened, or if it happened, Warren didn’t believe it.

Incredibly, no other Democrat presidential candidates have hit Warren on her misappropriation of Native American identity, despite Warren attacking them on stage on a variety of supposed personal and political problems. By not raising the issue, the other Democrat presidential candidates have compounded Warren’s deception, which should have been exposed on the debate stage with at least the vigor with which Warren went after others for their past conduct.

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legacyrepublican | February 26, 2020 at 8:09 am

Keep pounding those native drums until you win against her cultural appropriation. I’ll enjoy the tune no end.

She is very wooden, though.

Warren will never apologize for that story. It is central to the validity of her entire adult life story. For decades, she was the first “colored” professor at Harvard, achieved by cutting in line ahead of more qualified candidates by lying. This then became the gateway to everything else she accomplished in life. At the most fundamental level, she is a liar and a cheat. An utter fraud.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Pasadena Phil. | February 26, 2020 at 9:55 am

    She has a lot in common with BLM, both are built on lies. I am having trouble deciding which is worse, Warren or Black Liars Matter.

    Native Americans always had it worse than blacks, in that they were not valuable property which had to be well fed.

    I submit that Warren claiming that see was a native was worse than if she had claimed she was black.

      “Native Americans always had it worse than blacks…”

      You can’t lump Native Americans into one homogenous group. There is no NA “race”. My ancestry traces back to the original 50 French families that settled eastern Canada in the early 1500s. Indian relations were very good and intermarriage was very common. There were no blacks up there back then.

      With the “civilized tribes” which includes the Cherokee, white people marrying into Cherokee was considered “marrying up” in class since the Scottish settlers were less educated and less wealthy than the Cherokee. All owned black slaves, even blacks.

      It’s not that Warren couldn’t be part Cherokee, it’s that she isn’t. She never had any proof that she was yet based her entire life narrative that she was.

    Sonnys Mom in reply to Pasadena Phil. | February 26, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    What I want to know is, while masquerading as a diversity hire at Harvard Law, did Warren ever, EVER reach out to the students and faculty of the Native American (masters degree) Program at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences? Does she even know about the program?

I am not a person of color; I am a white woman, and that is how I identify.

White people need to get up a petition demanding she retract her claim to be white.

She makes us look bad.

Warren will soon be “circling the wagons” on this one.

I doubt her maw maw and her paw paw even told her these things. She is a pure fraud.

She lies with great ease and conviction as demonstrated again last night when she continued to repeat the “I was fired as a teacher because I was pregnant” story from the early ’70s despite that fact that her owns past words and publicly available documents prove it is a lie.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Massinsanity. | February 26, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Isn’t she also the one who “claimed” to be the first woman to
    wet nurse a baby on the U.S. Congress floor?

    My goodness, she would have been in her 60’s wouldn’t she for that to be true?

This is exactly the same “Swift-boating” attack that sank John Kerry in his presidential run.

Call out the claim, but weakly enough that the candidate gambles and doubles down. Then comes the death of a thousand cuts. With Warren we have reached the “boys in the boat call bullshit” phase.

I was a little surprised at first that this card has been thrown so early, and perhaps that it was even played at all. Warren is never going to win the nomination. However I finally realized that this is a desperate attempt by Bloomberg et al to narrow the field BEFORE Super Tuesday. In order to defeat Sanders, the middle-packers who draw 10 to 15 percent must drop out so that the “Never-Sanders” vote will have to coalesce around a single opponent. So Bloomberg now has, say, 15 percent. If he can force both Warren and Buttigieg out, and he gathers their voters, he will end up with 45 percent or so – enough for a brokered convention.

So – there has to be a -huge- revelation/attack on Buttigieg right on the heels of his (widely forecast) poor showing in Southern primaries where he has little Black support.

Wonder what it will be? The Democrats love sex scandals, so maybe a revelation that Pete has been cheating on his husband with a staffer?

Note: I believe that both Kerryand Warren deserved the attacks in that they both lied.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Hodge. | February 26, 2020 at 4:24 pm


    The DEMS created this Frankenstein of “57” varieties/genders of candidates, and not the monster is eating them up!

    RE: Peter Paul of South Bend….

    The DNC will probably reveal he’s actually Straight and “gay” was just an opportunistic career choice – like with Lizzie Warren.

Huh. Indians are on the warpath again. Big deal.

This is one of those cases where I wish nothing but the worst for both parties.

One blogger asked:

“If white privilege is real, then why did Elizabeth Warren pretend to be an American Indian to get a job at Harvard?”

But she promised to sign a pledge she won’t lie anymore

If I go back far enough, my ancestors are Black. Once they got to Eurasia, some Neanderthal even sneaked into my bloodline.

That’s a pretty well-stocked bar she’s standing in front of!

Mrs. Warren is a regrettable cretin who would plunder any opportunity to advance her unremarkable skill set.

As it were, Warren is one of the very, very rare occasions where having a Kennedy replace her in elected office might be the lesser of abominations.

Aww, c’mon people! If a biological male can identify as a woman, and every Democrat buys into it, what’s wrong with Pocahontas saying she is an Indian? And remember, George Costanza said it’s not a lie if you believe it to be true.

    Sonnys Mom in reply to olafauer. | February 26, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    It’s actually FAUX-cahontas. POTUS probably learned about this bit of humor when he visited Massachusetts early in the 2015-16 primary season, attending backyard events at the homes of early supporters. He’s been mispronouncing it ever since, but we don’t mind.

    Geologist in reply to olafauer. | February 27, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    When I was a young boy, my parents gave me an Indian headdress/war bonnet. Doesn’t this make me a Native American?

The “family stories” Warren cites are a complete lie. She saw affirmative action opening and made everything up to take advantage of it. And she did it long before Harvard. When she was teaching in Texas, she filled out a card for membership in a professional association and crossed out white and wrote in Native American.
While at Harvard she never had contact with the Native American student group. They contacted her, and she ignored them. She is vile.

This POS is no different than rich college kids getting fake athletic credentials paid for with bribes by their parents – and stealing admission spots from deserving people.who actually qualify.

While faucahontas didn’t bribe anyone (at least that we know of), she did commit fraud. Every Indian behing her in every hiring process shouldn sue the hell out of her.

2nd Ammendment Mother | February 26, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Make it worth the time….. demand she make reparations in the amount of the salaries she earned while claiming Native American Status…..

She sits up on high social rung,
That Big Chief Has-Zits-on-her-Tongue!
A minority hire,
Who was one big liar,
And needs to go roll in the dung!

Why is it in all her pandering she kissing the ring of deportable aliens but never offers a thing to the US military families.