Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker is calling on Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) to apologize for his senior staffers and supporters’ “uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples.”
On Tuesday, a Boston CBS station, WCVB, aired video of staffers for Brown chanting “war whoops” and making “tomahawk chops” to show their distaste for Warren’s background—actions “that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples,” Baker wrote in a statement released today.
Brown later told the media he didn’t condone it, but said “the real offense is that [Warren] said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American, and then she changed her profile in the law directory once she made her tenure.”
Baker still wants an outright apology for the “racist” and “offensive” video. “A campaign that would allow and condone such offensive and racist behavior must be called to task for their actions,” Baker said.
“The Cherokee Nation is a modern, productive society, and I am blessed to be their chief. I will not be silent when individuals mock and insult our people and our great nation,” he added.
Also today, the National Center for American Indians (NCAI) said the video was “not only offensive and demeaning to Native Americans it is also demoralizing to citizens across the country.”
NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata further criticized Brown for “referring to someone’s skin color as an indicator for Native American identity,” which has lead to “numerous national television programs and websites” irresponsibly echoing his statements.
Pata is referring to Brown’s statement during a September 20 televised debate: “I think character is important…what you are referring to is the fact that Professor Warren claimed she is a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see, she is not.”
“These claims are false and Senator Brown should correct the record and retract his statement immediately,” Pata said.
Pata also blames Elizabeth Warren for allowing public misconception about Native identity to be continually misrepresented.
“She has every right to be proud of her family, however her campaign failed to educate a non-Native media and the public unfamiliar with federal tribal enrollment rules or about historic federal policies that make proving Native ancestry very difficult for some people,” Pata said. “Finally, Warren’s campaign did not respond to requests for interviews from Native media organizations. All of these actions could have gone a long way to reducing tension and increasing awareness.”
Pata underscored the discrimination Native peoples have long endured, “and we will not tolerate, nor should the American people tolerate, a return to hostile environments or ignorant discourse about America’s first peoples,” Pata said. “Nor should we tolerate a hostile environment about a common characteristic many people share, a connection to Native American ancestry.”