Time and again, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been criticized for claiming her Native-American heritage as she is not enrolled in any of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes – Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians or the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees. In addition to that, none of her known ancestors are present on the Dawes Rolls, a list of members of the “Five Tribes” that include Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole tribes.
However, that does not mean the Democrat has been lying about her heritage, as she has never claimed majority Cherokee ancestry and previously explained she learned about her ancestry through her mother.
The Massachusetts senator surprised the audience at the National Congress of American Indians in Boston, where she delivered a rather powerful speech addressing the controversy and slammed President Donald Trump for repeatedly using the “Pocahontas” slur to insult her.
“I’ve noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas. So I figured, let’s talk about Pocahontas,” the senator began. “Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived, and whose real story has been passed down to so many of you through the generations. Pocahontas – whose original name wasn’t even Pocahontas.”
She went on to explain how the modern iterations of the story make the relationship between John Smith and Pocahontas look like a fairytale, when it was anything but.
“In the fairy tale, Pocahontas saves John Smith from execution at the hands of her father. Except that was probably made up too,” Warren continued. “In the fable, her baptism as ‘Rebecca’ and her marriage to a Jamestown settler are held up to show the moral righteousness of colonization. In reality, the fable is used to bleach away the stain of genocide. As you know, Pocahontas’s real journey was far more remarkable — and far darker — than the myth admits.”
She then went on to share the heartrending story of her mother, who was part Native American, and fell in love with her father, who was white.
“My mother’s family was part Native American. And my daddy’s parents were bitterly opposed to their relationship. So, in 1932, when Mother was 19 and daddy had just turned 20, they eloped,” Warren explained. “My parents struggled. They sacrificed. They paid off medical debts for years. My daddy ended up as a janitor. They fought and they drank, but more than anything, they hung together. 63 years—that’s how long they were married. When my mother died, a part of my daddy slipped away too.”
After recounting the painful last moments she shared with her father, who passed away from cancer two years after his wife’s death, Warren once again slammed the commander-in-chief for his repeated use of the derogatory term.
“They’re gone, but the love they shared, the struggles they endured, the family they built, and the story they lived will always be a part of me,” she said. “And no one—not even the president of the United States—will ever take that part of me away.”
The senator insisted Trump disrespected the entire Native-American community with his repeated use of the “Pocahontas” jab.
The controversy first began after it was revealed the Harvard Law School listed Warren as a member of its minority group in the 90s, but the senator said she was not aware of it. However, Warren did mention her heritage in a directory for the Association of American Law Schools, according to the CNN.
Thumbnail / Banner: Reuters, Yuri Gripas