Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) took the stage today to share remarks at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 2018 Executive Council Winter Session (ECWS.) During her remarks, she addressed her heritage, and committed to recognizing tribal sovereignty and committing to uplifting the stories of tribal communities.
Warren also called out the President’s use of Pocahontas. “Our country’s disrespect of Native people didn’t start with President Trump. It started long before President Washington ever took office…But now we have a president who can’t make it through a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes without reducing Native history, Native culture, Native people to the butt of a joke. The joke, I guess, is supposed to be on me.”
Warren then addressed the over 500 Tribal delegates about her heritage and made her family history clear – that her family members are not on any rolls, and that she is not an enrolled member or citizen of a tribe – but a descendant of a tribal community.
“And I want to make something clear. I respect that distinction,” said Warren. “I understand that tribal membership is determined by tribes — and only by tribes. I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead. I never used it to advance my career.”
Then, she made a promise to lift up Native people. “I’m here today to make a promise: Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities,” said Senator Warren.
She went on to discuss stories she will uplift, including stories of missing and murdered Native women, the health care divide, tribal lands and natural resources, historic monuments like Bears Ears, access to capital and credit; and infrastructure and access to rural broadband.
“In addressing NCAI, Senator Warren addressed the world, and we are deeply honored by the courage she showed today,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel. “We appreciate her candor, humility, and honesty, and look forward to working with her as a champion for Indian Country.”
Following the Senator Warren’s remarks, the NCAI Board of Directors, and NCAI Tribal Delegation rose to a standing ovation.
Senator Warren’s written remarks are available for download here.
Watch the video of her speech here:
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