Native Americans Want to Grill Elizabeth Warren About Her Cherokee Claims

Tuesday, 04 Sep 2012 11:09 AM

By Patrick Hobin

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Native Americans at the Democratic National Convention are requesting a sit-down with Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who claimed Cherokee heritage in law school directories without proof, the Boston Herald reported.

American Indian delegates who are skeptical of her heritage claim invited Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat running against Sen. Scott Brown, to a meeting at the convention to explain her ancestry claims. She is scheduled to give a prime-time address on the convention stage on Wednesday.

“I think she owes us that, she owes the Native American community here at least that,” Stephen Lewis, a member of the Gila River Indian community, told the Herald. “That would go a long way in dispelling that question.”

Many American Indian delegates expressed anger that Warren listed herself as an American Indian minority in law school directories, according to the Herald. Warren has offered no proof of her ancestry and has only said she is relying on “stories” relayed to her by her family.

In the 1980s, when Warren was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, she began listing herself as Native American in a legal directory, Bloomberg News reported. An article from a 1997 Fordham Law Review describes Warren as the Harvard Law School faculty's "first woman of color."

“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 LeMere, an American Indian activist of the Nebraska Winnebago Tribe, 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 Herald. “You have to step up and bring those [American Indian] issues forward. That’s what it’s all about.”

Harlyn Geronimo, the great-grandson of the famous Apache warrior, said he wanted to make sure she didn’t try to “take advantage” of her Cherokee claims. “I wouldn’t vote for anybody that is being dishonest, and it’s unfair to our people,” he told the Herald.

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