Elizabeth Warren has a decision to make. Either she can admit that she's not actually Native American, and used anecdotal evidence to support her occupation of a "diversity hire" slot at Harvard Law School, ultimately destroying any claim she might have to being a progressive superstar, or she can double down on her claims and risk being exposed as a fraud.
According to sources close to Warren who spoke to Politico, she's — shockingly — going with the latter. In fact, Warren is running an entire "shadow campaign" to get Native Americans on her side so she'll have backup the next time someone calls her 'Fauxcahontas" (or, in the case of the president who didn't quite get the joke, "Pocahontas").
The initiative all started last month when Warren spoke to the National Congress of American Indians. In her speech, Warren made reference to "our" people, and made an attempt, Politico says, to "define her story," even though her story is just that members of her family have "high cheekbones" — a characteristic attributed largely to racist caricatures of Native Americans, not First Peoples themselves — and that her family once published a cookbook called, of all things, "Pow Wow Chow."
In addition to her speech, she's also added her name to a "flurry" of bills "directly related to Native American policy."
For the cynical, there's plenty to find odd about Warren's legislative efforts. According to Politico and the Congressional database, Warren did not officially co-author any of the measures, and she added her name as a co-sponsor just two days after delivering her National Congress speech, even though at least two of the bills had "been introduced months earlier."
Since her speech, she's also met with representatives of several Native American tribes, including the Wampanoag, the Chippewa, and the Choctaw.
Warren doesn't have any paperwork showing she's part Native American, and Harvard Law apparently didn't require any official documentation. Her diversity hire predates modern innovations in genetic testing, but she's so far also refused to take a simple at-home DNA test, like the ones available through Ancestry.com, likely out of fear that they'd reveal no Native American lineage.
The Democratic National Committee's Native American Caucus says they're backing her, however, and have hit out at President Donald Trump for believing he can define who is Native American and who isn't.
“It’s ridiculous that a non-Indian man, that’s our president, tries to sit there and define who is and who isn’t Native,” the DNC's Native American chair told Politico.
That's all well and good, but Warren's efforts look desperate, and progressives haven't — at least so far — bought into her public relations efforts, even going so far to claim, in a Think Progress essay published last November, that "she is not from us. She does not represent us. She is not Cherokee.”