After a DNA test proved she has less Native American ancestry than the average white person, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has claimed to be an Indian throughout her career, will meet privately on Sunday with tribal elders while on her first visit to her home state of Oklahoma as a presidential candidate.
The outreach marks her latest attempt over a three-year period to atone to Native Americans for claiming she was an “American Indian” throughout her career, according to the Washington Post.
Representatives from all of the roughly 40 federally recognized tribes in the state were invited to a round table meeting with Warren in Tulsa on Sunday morning, ahead of a town hall meeting she is hosting that evening in Oklahoma City. By Tuesday evening, about a dozen had indicated they will attend, according to a person familiar with the schedule who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. –Washington Post
“It’ll be very heavy,” said NickyKay Michael, a member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians tribal council. “I don’t think they’ll be jumping up and down like they’d be for someone who was in their corner for a long time.”
On Saturday, tribal leaders will meet to determine whether they will send a representative to the Warren event, according to Michael, who says leadership is torn on the issue.
“You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot just because you’ve had a bad taste in your mouth for a long time,” he said.
The previously unreported pow-wow will focus on Warren’s recently announced efforts to help Native Americans by highlighting issues that matter most to them. According to people familiar with the meeting, “Warren is also trying to blunt the criticism she has faced over the years for appropriating Native American culture by identifying as such.” In other words, more damage control.
While Warren has long-claimed that being a fake Native American never boosted her career, and that she was simply repeating ‘family lore’ she grew up with, she identified herself professionally as a Native American during several key points in her career.
In April 1986, she listed her race as “American Indian” on her registration card for the State Bar of Texas, according to a copy of that document obtained by The Washington Post. She also listed herself as a minority from 1986 to 1994 in the Association of American Law Schools directory.
While teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Warren had her race changed to Native American from white, university records show. Later, she requested that Harvard Law School list her as Native American after she was hired in 1995, according to the Boston Globe, which reviewed her personnel records -WaPo
“There’s been significant outreach efforts, not only with the Cherokee but with other tribes,” said former Oklahoma governor David Walters (D) of Warren’s attempts to rectify the situation. “I think she has effectively explained any of the issues associated with that incident. Beyond that, I think people are looking forward to knowing where does she stand on important issues to tribal governments?”