Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claim to Native American ancestry is often mocked by conservatives who call her “Fauxcahontas” — and President Donald Trump, who once called her “Pocahontas” — but it turns out, there are those on the Left who are just as bothered by Warren’s lack of evidence that she truly belongs to the Cherokee nation — and that could haunt her at the ballot box.
The Boston Globe reports this week that Warren, who has long brushed off criticism over her claiming minority status in order to get hired at Harvard University, saying she “knows who she is” and referencing family tall tales about intermarrying with Native Americans when they first settled in Oklahoma, is facing new questions.
The problem? Native Americans keep meticulous genealogy records, and Warren’s family isn’t listed in them. In fact, the Globe says, “examinations by genealogists of documents including birth, marriage, and death records have shown no conclusive proof of Native American ancestry.”
That’s certainly a problem because it means that Warren took advantage of an “Affirmative Action”-style program when she shouldn’t have, effectively stealing a potential Ivy League job from an actual Native American person. And it also puts her at odds with progressives, who say she’s unfairly treating the oppression Native Americans have suffered for centuries into a commodity.
Native Americans, particularly, aren’t happy about her decision to claim Native ancestry without proof — and, furthermore, to refuse to participate within the Native American community.
“She’s not part of the Cherokee community,” former Cherokee Nation chief Chad Smith said. “She hasn’t reached out. She hasn’t come here and participated much.
“The mark of value in claiming heritage is: Do you use your position to give back?” he continued. “If it is a claim that is valuable to her, she should be helping Indian country. She might be doing it with the overall agenda. But unless she’s contributing back, it is a somewhat hollow claim.”
Another Native columnist, writing in the far left publication Think Progress, took issue with Warren’s circumstantial evidence of Native ancestry, like what she says are “high cheekbones” and a family cookbook titled, “Pow Wow Chow.” Those descriptors, the columnist claimed, are centuries-old — and basically racist: “Her false claims back up some of the worst stereotypes of Indians, which is that we no longer exist and we’re not seen as a contemporary or vibrant community.”
According to the Globe, Warren’s home paper, she’s caught in a Catch-22. If she admits she has no proof of ancestry and apologizes, she bolsters conservative claims that she’s lied about her heritage to take advantage of institutional bias toward minorities (sort of like how she claims to be familiar with being “middle class” while boasting an $8.5 million net worth). It would kill her crediblity.
On the other hand, if she maintains that she’s of Cherokee decent without evidence, she may run afoul of progressives who are more concerned with identity politics than ever before.