Huffpo reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made a surprise appearance today at the National Indian Women’s “Supporting Each Other” lunch. She was there to introduce Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, the chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah in Massachusetts. The event took place during an annual meeting of the National Congress of American Indians.
Warren received a standing ovation from tribal leaders and other Native attendees as she approached the stage. She called on Congress to take more action on Native issues, including “the alarming number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls,” suicide rates among Native people, housing, health care and addiction.
But most of her remarks were spent praising Native women, saying she was there to lift up Native voices. She specifically mentioned Reps. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) ― the first two Native women elected to Congress ― and Andrews-Maltais, who was given an award.
The Huffpo article notes the controversy that has surrounded Warren’s family stories of Native American ancestry, which she took as fact and used on several forms over the years, including an application for the Texas Bar, the racist attacks on her by Drumpf and other GOPers (starting with her first Senate opponent Scott Brown), and the controversy over Warren’s attempt to satisfy things with a DNA test. The article also notes that the criticism Warren has received from some Native Americans hasn’t been shared by all. There is no evidence that Warren ever used her family’s claim of Native American heritage to advance her career. Further, she never claimed membership in any tribe or nation and the video of her DNA test results stressed the difference between tribal membership and customs and the DNA’s confirmation of her family story.
I doubt this will be the last time this is aired in Warren’s political campaign. It may dog her the entire campaign and may even keep her from winning—either the nomination or in the general election. But this report shows that many Native Americans support her, consider her an ally—not one of their own, but an ally.
I recommend the article because it gives a more balanced approach to Warren and Native Americans than most coverage I’ve seen. As a white dude, I surely am in no position to tell any Native person how they should feel about Warren or any other candidate. I have no right to say how much importance anyone should attach to Warren’s DNA test and related actions—and I don’t.
But I do think it needs to be weighed against other factors in Warren’s vision and policy proposals—and most of the women at this Native American conference seemed to agree.