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What 8 Native Americans have said about Elizabeth Warren controversy
Storified by Digital First Media · Tue, Sep 25 2012 11:03:31
The continued controversy over Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry have overshadowed other issues. Here’s what Native Americans have had to say about the issue.
She’s not really Native American.
“Elizabeth Warren is as close to her Indian ancestors as I am to my 19th Century Russian furtrapping great-grandfather.”
– Author and filmmaker Sherman Alexie, who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and is of Coeur d’Alene, Colville, Flathead, Spokane and white descent, in a
Warren’s claims were disrespectful.
“It’s cowardly to ride the coattails of people who have lost so much for your own benefit and not accomplish what you can accomplish on your own benefits. I think it’s shameful and extremely disrespectful not just to Cherokees but to all tribes who have given so much to this country historically and lost so much.”
– Ali Sacks, a Cherokee woman who traveled to Massachusetts to criticize Warren, in an article in the
It was inappropriate if she used it to get ahead.
“I think if she used it just to get some kind of advantage — whatever it was — like a job application or something, then that’s probably not appropriate. … If you have nothing to do with Indians at all — never — except to try to get some unfair advantage, then I think there’s an ethical question in that. … I don’t know if Mrs. Warren did that or not. Maybe not.”
– Former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), a member of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe, in an interview with
The Daily Caller
Everyone says they’re a Cherokee.
“There’s an old joke in this corner of Indian Country that if you meet someone who doesn’t know anything about tribal affairs but claims they’re Indian, they’ll say they’re Cherokee.”
– Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton, spokesman for the Cherokee Nation, in an article in the
If she’s Cherokee, then Mitt Romney is Hispanic.
“With his smoky black hair, prosperously tawny skin tone, and lineage that paternally extends back to Mexico, Mitt Romney guarantees that 2012 will see the most diverse Presidential contest yet. And by November 7, according the esoteric reasoning of Elizabeth Warren and her supporters, we may have our first Hispanic executive-elect.”
Warren is ignoring Native American journalists.
“Warren has done little to help calm the controversy, instead always sticking to her story on family lore. She has chosen not to do interviews with the Native press, has ignored visits and inquiries from Cherokees, and she refused to meet with Native American delegates at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month. Her campaign did not respond to questions from Indian Country Today Media Network after the debate.”
– Rob Capriccioso, Washington D.C. bureau chief for Indian Country Today Media Network and member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, in an article on
the Senate debate
Cheap jokes about the controversy are offensive.
“A recent article posted by Michelle Malkin with the headline ‘Sacaja-whiner: Elizabeth Warren and the Oppression Olympics’ paired partial references to multiple Native American names with ways to ridicule Ms. Warren’s ancestry claims. … While allegations surrounding her claims are unsettling, making fun of Native names that have history, respect, and honor is worse.”
The controversy is overshadowing serious tribal issues.
“Instead of perpetuating stereotypes of American Indians, Americans would be much better served with commentary discussing tribal sovereignty, tribal rights and the very serious issues that our tribal communities face, today. The focus should be placed on how our members of Congress intend to uphold tribal sovereignty and enact legislation consistent with the federal trust responsibility.”
– Arizona congressional candidate Wenona Benally Baldenegro, a member of the Navajo Nation, in a statement on
the Native News Network