With the Democratic National Convention (DNC) kicking off today, U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is facing criticism from several American Indian delegates who are pressing her for a meeting during the event to talk about her claims of Native ancestry.
Warren, running as a Democrat in Massachusetts, has said family folklore indicates she is some part Cherokee, but genealogical research hasn’t supported that notion, and she is not enrolled in any tribe. She has also not been known to be active or close with any Indian communities, organizations, or individuals.
Harvard Law School touted her as Native American after she was hired there in the 1990s and after she listed herself as minority in a law directory, but neither the school, nor Warren, had any proof that she is Native.
The Boston press is hounding Warren, who is scheduled to speak at the Charlotte, North Carolina-based convention on the evening of September 5, to come clean on why she has not met with American Indians to discuss her claims, which gained nationwide attention in late-April.
Warren has said she has already responded to questions about her heritage, but many questions linger.
American Indian delegates – of which there will be dozens at the convention – have asked her for a one-on-one meeting to explain herself, and to allow for a dialogue, which was the motivation she has previously cited for listing herself in the legal directory as a minority.
“I think she owes us that, she owes the Native American community here at least that,” Stephen Lewis, a citizen of the Gila River Indian community, told the Boston Herald at the convention. “That would go a long way in dispelling that question.”
“If you are Native, there is no doubt, and if one has to research to try and ascertain if they are Native American, I would have great concerns with that and I think naturally I would just wonder if that was a vehicle she would want to use to her benefit,” Frank LaMere, a Nebraska Winnebago tribal citizen, also told the paper. “If that is the case, shame on her.”
“If you’re going to claim that you are American Indian and a descendant of some Native nation then you have to represent,” Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, a Montana state senator and member of the Crow Nation, told the paper. “You have to step up and bring those (American Indian) issues forward. That’s what it’s all about.”
Some Indians attending the DNC – even though they are loyal Democrats – were quoted as saying that Warren should not be supported if she has lied about the situation.
“I wouldn’t vote for anybody that is being dishonest, and it’s unfair to our people,” Harlyn Geronimo, an Apache citizen, told the paper.
The Native American Caucus is scheduled to meet at the DNC on September 5. Warren’s campaign has not responded to requests for comment on whether she will attend the event.