Despite what liberals believe, despite what many on this website have said, the fact is that many Native Americans are angry with Elizabeth Warren.
Now a group of Cherokees has formed Cherokees Demand Truth from Elizabeth Warren “to show why Elizabeth Warren claiming to be Cherokee without proof is harmful and offensive to us” and they held a silent protest at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention over the weekend.
Warren again dismissed the issue at the Convention, ignored the Cherokees and blamed any questions on Senator Scott Brown’s campaign wanting to distract from his record.
Cherokee protest organizer David Cornsilk told me that:
Politicians from both sides of the aisle call issues they don’t want to deal with a distraction. That, of course, does not mean it is. In this instance, Elizabeth Warren’s claim might have only been of interest to the Cherokees were she not seeking public office. But what is surely of broader interest is her lack of honesty and integrity in her response.
The issues a politician faces may only have specialized interest, but telling lies to cover things up, while brushing away those who claim to have been harmed speaks to a deeper more systemic problem with the candidate. She obviously doesn’t care when she hurts the little guy and sees nothing wrong with lying to continue the ruse. Elizabeth Warren is a damaged candidate, perhaps mortally wounded, not because she thought she was Indian and wasn’t, but because she proved herself a liar.
Rob Capriccioso for Indian Country Today explains the breadth of concerns:
Her “high cheekbones” recollection of family lore, her failed Native networking while in academia and odd explanations of it, the possibility that Harvard promoted her as a Native professor without any documentation, and attempts by her campaign to paint Indian concerns as a nonissue have all been problematic.
Warren had originally said she didn’t know the universities (Pennsylvania, Harvard) were listing her as Native American until she read about it in the Boston Herald. In comments last week, she now acknowledges that she told them. That listing led to a Harvard journal calling her their first “woman of color.”
Native educators have raised concerns about Harvard’s role in promoting Warren as Native without any supporting documentation, asking whether this action took a position away from any Native citizens who may have applied during the time of Warren’s tenure. Ronnie Washines, past president of the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), explains these concerns bluntly: “Like others before her and probably after her, she uses Native status for her own benefit.”
Warren has blanked Native Media:
To date, Warren has done no interviews with the American Indian press. There are dozens of tribal papers and national Native news outlets, including well-respected Cherokee outlets, that she could have reached out to in order to help calm the controversy and alleviate Native concerns about both her background and its impact on Indian citizens.
She is also ignoring an open invitation to meet with the Cherokee group. Or the suggestions of Native Americans like Debbie Reese, from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois, about how to end the controversy.
Almost all press coverage has ignored Native American opinion and the reports of the Cherokee protest drew derision and attacks on the Cherokee from Warren supporters; Daily Kos called them “Swift Boaters” and assumed they are a Brown front group.
The Scott Brown camp, in contrast, is talking to Native media and, precisely, underlined the concerns of many:
At the end of the day, that’s really what this is in large degree about — has she assumed an identity to which she is not entitled and has she gained some benefit for which other people have paid a price?
They also offered the Warren camp some free advice — talk to Native media.
To be clear, not all Native Americans are angry, and many do not agree with the protests. But ignoring Native Americans concerns completely will surely lead to more anger and more protests like the one at the weekend — whose political campaign might that benefit?
There are already signs that the Warren campaign’s approach is losing it votes among independents. 31% in a poll released Saturday said the issue makes them less likely to support her in November.
The “Ed Show’s” Ed Schultz says she should just admit she screwed up and move on. A Massachusetts Democrat House Rep. says the same as does her former rival for the nomination, Marisa DeFranco.
Her campaign’s approach is simply not working. Yet both she and liberal media — including all the liberal favorites — have failed to even talk to Native Americans and find answers.
It’s like Native Americans are America’s invisible people.
Reese explains that this opportunity could, instead, be utilized to do something about that invisibility:
America could emerge from this moment as more-educated about American Indians … Warren could do a lot of educating if she had the courage to do so.
Reese is just cynical about whether Warren has that courage.
Image by DonkeyHotey