Warren Doubles Down On Native American Ancestry Claim During Surprise Appearance

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/02/14/warren-doubles-down-on-native-american-ancestry-claim-during-surprise-appearance/

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren addressed claims of her Native American heritage Wednesday while delivering remarks at the National Congress of American Indians, and insisted that her mother’s Cherokee ancestry is not a fabrication.

“My mother’s family was part Native American,” Warren said. “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.”

Warren’s remarks focused on the “Pocahontas” taunts frequently lobbed at her by President Donald Trump, with whom she has sparred with numerous times on social media. During her speech, Warren sought to debunk the “Pocahontas myth” — the “fairy tale” story about the purported Jamestown romance between the Indian chief’s daughter and the Englishman John Smith.

“In the fairy tale, Pocahontas and John Smith meet and fall in love,” Warren said. “Except Smith was nearly 30, and Pocahontas was about 10 years old, whatever happened between them, it was no love story.”

The Cambridge Democrat, who is up for re-election in November, criticized the story as “a fable used to bleach away the stain of genocide.”

Yet for Warren, ever since the 2012 election that elevated her to the United States Senate, the topic of her ancestry has been scrutinized and labeled by political opponents as a fable itself — a made-up claim she used to further her own career.

Warren has been noticeably averse when it comes to discussing her heritage with the media, and her remarks Wednesday represented one of the most forceful public declarations to date. Warren later vowed to turn the controversy into a positive.

“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,” she told the American Indian gathering.

She also claimed to have never used her heritage to further her legal career, although a Harvard Crimson report from 1996 features an on-the-record claim from then-Harvard Law School spokesman Michael Chmura that Warren’s ascension to the elite institution’s faculty was partly due to the school’s efforts to diversify.

“I get why some people think there’s hay to be made here,” Warren said. “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.”

Yet one claim Warren did not address Wednesday involves the 1984 Native American cookbook Pow Wow Chow and Warren’s submission of several family recipes, namely “Crab with Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing” and “Cold Omelets with Crab Meat.”

Boston Herald columnist and WRKO-680 talk show host Howie Carr was the first to determine that both recipes were lifted, almost word-for-word, from French chefs’ recipes published in the New York Times and other publications.

Meanwhile, Warren’s GOP three challengers were quick to comment on the senator’s remarks.

Winchester businessman John Kingston said in a prepared statement that Warren’s speech “distracts from an issue she has never addressed:  did she claim to be a member of a Native American tribe in order to obtain preferential consideration for employment at Harvard University, as well as in all her academic positions before that?

“She has never answered that question beyond a reasonable doubt, and she didn’t answer it today. People have a right to know.”

Kingston also raised the issue of Warren’s true political aspirations. He and others have alleged that Warren is more focused on angling for a potential 2020 White House run than on representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“If Elizabeth Warren wants to be president of the United States, the call for full transparency will only grow louder,” Kingston added.

Fellow GOP candidate Geoff Diehl, a state representative from Whitman, questioned in a prepared statement why Warren would suddenly appear before the National Congress of American Indians, unannounced. According to the Boston Globe, Warren’s name was nowhere to be found on the event’s agenda.  

“Senator Warren has had decades to address her so-called claims of American Indian heritage, why now?” Diehl questioned. “This is another media stunt by Warren to gain national exposure for her presidential run.

“It doesn’t excuse her for wrongfully claiming a minority appointment. Her words today of caring don’t seem to match her actions of the past.”

Beth Lindstrom, a former aide to Republican Governor Mitt Romney, said in a statement that “only Elizabeth Warren can answer why she assumed a Native American identity as she was climbing the career ladder in academia.

“I’m more concerned with what she stands for than who she claims to be, and the fact is she is a major contributor to the negative dynamic and dysfunction in Washington,” Lindstrom said. “Lecturing, raging, and grandstanding can work up your followers on the far left, but that is not the same as serving your constituents.”

Warren in her remarks also chastised federal lawmakers for letting “their Big Oil buddies pad their profits by encroaching on your land and fouling your rivers and streams,” although she stopped short of pointing the finger at Republicans.

She did, however, take one last jab at Trump over the president’s “deeply offensive” decision to “keep a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office, honoring a man who did his best to wipe out native people.”

“But the kind of violence President Jackson and his allies perpetrated isn’t just an ugly chapter in a history book,” Warren added. “Violence remains part of life today. The majority of violent crimes experienced by Native Americans are perpetrated by non-natives, and more than half — half — of native women have experienced sexual violence.

“This must stop. And I promise I will fight to help write a different story.”