During her appearance at a forum focused on Native American issues Monday morning, 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren began her remarks with an apology for her past claims of Native American heritage.
“Before I go any further in this, I want to say this,” Warren began. “Like anyone who’s being honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes; I am sorry for the harm I have caused. I have listened and I have learned a lot, and I am grateful for the many conversations that we’ve had together.”
She went on to say it was a “great honor to be able to partner with Indian country, and that’s what I’ve tried to do as a senator and that’s what I promise I will do as president of the United States of America.”
After a round of applause, the candidate said that “the federal government’s history with our tribal nations has been one of broken promises” and that “we need to honor our trust and treaty obligation to the native tribes.”
Warren has been trying to distance herself from her past claims of Native American heritage, which have been a running joke for the last few years of her career. Warren claimed that she was part Native American as part of a job application for Harvard University in the early 1990s and also did so on a registration document for Texas State Bar back in 1986. She also contributed five recipes to a 1984 cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow.“
When asked about her heritage in 2012, Warren defended her heritage claims by saying that she “lived in a family that has talked about Native Americans, talked about tribes since I had been a little girl,” and that her aunt often remarked that “her father, my Papaw — had high cheek bones like all of the Indians do.“
After facing criticisms on the dubious from President Donald Trump — often in the form of the mocking nickname “Pocahontas” — Warren released the results of a DNA test in October. The test found out that she was as little as 1/1024th Native American genetically, which is actually less than most Americans of European descent.
Last week, in a clear effort to put all the heritage baggage behind her Warren rolled out her policy proposal on Native American issues that would — among other ideas — proposes a permanent cabinet-level White House Council on Indian Affairs.
“The story of America’s mistreatment of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians is a long and painful one, rooted in centuries of discrimination, neglect, greed, and violence,” Warren said in a Medium post about her Native American plan. “Native history is American history — and we must be honest about our government’s responsibility in perpetuating these injustices for centuries.”