Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Letter to Elizabeth Warren

Dear Ms. Warren,

I am writing this letter in the hope it will help end the current situation you have found yourself in. It seems you are being ripped apart in the media because of your claim of Cherokee ancestry and you don't like it. According to a recent article in the Boston Globe, you believe your opponent is "creating a distraction" by "ridiculously" attacking you "with questions that have already been answered." It seems you would like the "attacks" against your claims of Cherokee ancestry to stop so I thought I would offer some advice on how to make it stop. 

Tell the truth. 

You see, Ms. Warren, some of us have independently done our own research and we know you have no documentation supporting your claim of Cherokee ancestry.* We wonder why you believe you have the right to claim Cherokee ancestry and to call yourself a Native American when you have no evidence to support your claim. While you cling to a family story and the inaccurate report that ONE document was found that supports your claim, we real Cherokees understand that those things mean nothing. You see, we Cherokees have lots and lots and lots of documentation supporting our claims of our ancestry. Our Cherokee ancestors are found on every roll of the Cherokee Nation (30+ rolls!) dating back to before the removal and in all sorts of other documentation, including but not limited to claims against the US government for lost property; the Moravian missionary records; ration lists before and after the forced removal, etc...yet your ancestors are found in NONE of those records. 

But, your ancestors are found in plenty of historical records, and every time, they are found living as white people among other white people. Never are your ancestors ever found living among the Cherokees. Never, never, never, never.......yet you claim they were Cherokee.

Hmmm........and they say you are an elite lawyer! Really?

Are we supposed to believe an elite lawyer knows nothing about the burden of proof? According to, the burden of proof is the responsibility of producing sufficient evidence in support of a fact or issue and favorably persuading the trier of fact. Well, Ms. Warren, you should know that you are not doing a very good job of supporting your claim or persuading anyone to believe what you say. This is starting to make us question your ability as a legal mind! And that makes us question whether you really got your job at Harvard on your own merits or whether you climbed on the backs of the Cherokee people in order to further your career.

So, Ms. Warren, you see, it is not just your opponent who has questions. We Cherokees have questions too and those questions have yet to be answered by you. You see, for us Cherokees, this is not political. This is about the truth. 

You have claimed something you had no right to claim -- our history and our heritage and our identity. Those things belong to us, and us alone. These are not things we choose to embrace when they benefit us and then cast aside when we no longer need them, but that is what you seem to have done by "checking a box" for several years and then no longer "checking" it more recently, when apparently you no longer needed it. 

Of course, you say you only "checked the box" in an attempt to meet others like you, but that doesn't make sense. If one is claiming to be Cherokee and wants to meet other Cherokees, they don't "check a box" on a job application or in a directory for their profession! They go to where Cherokees are.  

If you wanted to meet "other" Cherokees, you should have known you could go there to meet them, so stop with the "I only wanted to meet others like me" BS. You disrespect us by saying things like that and we don't appreciate it!

We also don't appreciate knowing you might have used us to give your career a leg up over the competition when you were hired at Harvard. It is time you offer us some proof showing you did not do that. Until then, we have no alternative but to suspect you are not being honest about how you got that job. It is unfortunate that you might have not had enough confidence in your abilities to depend on them to carry you and therefore, felt you had to lie and invent a Native American identity to get ahead in the world. Sad, sad, sad.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

*Note - Several people who are experienced researchers in Cherokee genealogy have been working together exploring Elizabeth Warren's ancestry. They have uncovered many documents that, combined, paint a very clear picture that Warren descends from white people who had no connection whatsoever to the Cherokee Nation. These documents will be posted soon.

copyright 2012, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB


  1. Warren ALSO portrayed herself as 'cherokee' at Penn State for similar reasons: as a white woman, she wanted to be listed as a minority

  2. Genuine scholarship is exactly what is needed. Thank you.

  3. You are from Oklahoma!

    That's the part that galls me. She KNOWS better. She's only a bit older than me and I learned Oklahoma history as early as fourth grade (at least in Bartlesville). Everyone in our class could trace *or not* our ancestors on the rolls. I googled mine easily the other day--4 clicks--and found a dozen family names scattered through the Chickasaw rolls. She. Knows. Better. And she won't come clean.

  4. Thank you for saying what people like myself have been feeling. Warren's contempt for indigenous peoples, and the truth has been breathtaking, and the situation needed someone to point that out, because it's been far too easy for her to keep passing the buck. If she, as people like myself were proud of their indigenous ancestry, she would have sought others out, as you mentioned, she would have studied, and networked with others.. yet I read that various indigenous students and groups at Harvard all stated that she never got involved. My maternal grandfather was Abenaki, my entire family on my mother's side has been proud of that fact, but mostly because of the wonderful man that he was, as has my daughter, but we all recognized that didn't make us entitled to proclaim ourselves or any benefits.

  5. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. On the other hand, I wonder why you care so much. After all, have you not met hundreds of people who claim to be part Cherokee? I don't go out of my way to inform strangers that I'm a Cherokee, but there have been plenty of times when someone has found out and informed me of their Cherokee heritage. I just smile and nod, I don't research their ancestry to prove that they're not Cherokee.

    Now, you can't think that this lady checking a box at Harvard got her ahead of more talented and qualified people. I can assure you that's not how it works. I never hide my race when it comes up on a job application but it's never been a consideration. I wish you'd read this before making any mention of special consideration: As a Cherokee yourself you should know better than to think that there's any privilege granted to us simply because of our heritage.

    Last point. Please don't claim to speak for me. I am a blue-card carrying member of the CNO. If I cared to, I could show you my pedigree chart with 8 or 10 or however many ancestors on the Dawes Rolls. Elizabeth Warren falsely claiming to be Cherokee is a bad thing, but frankly I think more damage is being done by the conservative wackos thinking that they now have free reign to use disgusting racial language to talk about Warren. I'd rather this just go away, and after she wins or loses, when none of the crazies care anymore, we talk about it again.

    1. Wow. This is the type of blind support for people that claim Indian ancestry that is quite troubling. Also, Nat-Wu, you are dead wrong. I have reviewed this website and Ms. Barnes is NOT checking the background of every individual that makes an Indian ancestry claim. The number of false claims would take millions of years to process. She seems, and I'm not trying to speak for her but to point out the obviously inherent weaknesses in your blind support of Warren, to only be reviewing the claims of very famous fake Indian Wannabees. I read that blog post above and quite honestly it is a trite argument. If Warren wins, which is quite possible, she will become, assuming the Democrats retain control of the Senate, the leading Senator to head the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. You are basically arguing that we should just ignore her fake claims on Indian ancestry until after the election, let her get elected, and then we can start questioning her falsehoods. That is a dangerous, dangerous game and it is not one that I am willing to play. Who elected you to go around and tell native people to just shut their mouths until the election is over? Are you the Indian in charge? You don't speak for me or my family. I reject your blind support of Warren and I reject your demand that other natives have to put tape over our mouths. Your demand that this blog, which I just found, stop asking valid questions sounds like the old voice of colonial domination. Shame on you!

    2. Nat-Wu,
      It is up to those of us who DO care about the integrity of our Nation, the integrity of our history and the integrity of our ancestors to point out to people that they are not Cherokee when they claim to be yet have no proof.

      The run-of-the-mill regular person's claims to Cherokee heritage is bad enough, trying to prove to someone that their ancestors were not documented on any of the Cherokee rolls - they get defensive and nasty.

      But, with someone of status, ie: Elizabeth Warren, it is doubly important to point out that their heritage is not what they claim it to be. It is dangerous for our history to allow them to continue claiming to be something they are not, accepting jobs or status that is meant for someone who is truly Cherokee.

      I also am a blue (and white) card carrying member of the CNO, and I find it insulting that people try to get away with their false claims, their ancestor stealing and their twisting of the true history and facts, just to fit it into their family tree. Then, to have an actual carded member of our tribe say it's not that important is like a slap in the face.

      It IS that important, the research Twila does to try to help these people understand who their real ancestors were, that they were not Cherokee - however, those people did live and should be remembered for who they were, not replaced with a Cherokee.

      As for waiting until EW "wins or loses" to discuss it, that will be too late. It should be discussed now, and the "damage being done by conservative wackos" is not a reason to quit putting the truth forward.

    3. You all are missing the point! I can't believe that three of you wrote back to me and all three of you never once questioned the idea that somehow Elizabeth Warren got special treatment because she claimed Native heritage! Obviously none of you bothered to read the link I posted, and since I took the time to read the post above and all your comments, it's the least you could do for me. I'm going to link it again, and anybody who doesn't read it is getting ignored.

      The writer is a Cherokee woman currently completing her doctorate. I believe she's going to Harvard, which definitely puts her in the rarefied air of high academia, but her experience gives her the ability to write what she does.

      In the words of my father, "I'm full blood Cherokee and have never felt like I received preferential treatment on my job, now if I resided in the fourteen county Cherokee Nation area in Oklahoma it might have happened, they do practice indian preference." Do you people not have a clue what it's like to be out in the wider world? Do you really think Indians get some special privileges? My dad has always been proud to proclaim his heritage, and I've never hidden mine, but we've never gotten any special treatment because of it. My dad didn't go to college but I did, and I had to go to a public school because you don't just waltz into an Ivy-League school with a mediocre GPA and no extracurriculars.

      You all needed to be reminded of that. A white person may believe that crap, but Indians know better. As for whether Elizabeth Warren somehow "cheated" the system based on listing herself in some directory, let me remind you that she started out as the daughter of a janitor. She took herself this far on sheer ability and dedication. I don't have a problem with that. I won't say none of you have researched the lady, but I will say it looks like none of you realized that she's not claiming to speak for us, she's not claiming to represent us, and she wasn't the one who brought up her Native heritage. That was her opponent's camp. And do you know why they used that as a target? Because they were making the implicit claim that Indians get privileges, and that she had used that to benefit herself.

      Now do you see why this is dangerous? Now do you see why I say her false claims are not important? What's important, and what you should be mad about, is the wacky idea that somehow she could profit off the system by claiming Indian heritage. For your sakes, for your children's sakes, and for my sake, do not support this argument. Tell people that whether or not she's Cherokee is a matter between her and us, but that regardless there is no system for us to take advantage of, much less a wannabe.

    4. Why do I care? I care because we have 250+ fake Cherokee tribes in the United States. Some of those "tribes" have state recognition even though the criteria to join is usually whether their check clears the bank rather than having actual Cherokee ancestry. The members of these groups are eligible to sell their crafts as authentic Indian made crafts even though these people are likely not real Indians. The people from these groups go into schools and teach a false history of the Cherokee so they can make their groups fit in with our history. The people from these groups bastardize our culture and traditions, without a care to the world whether the things they do are really Cherokee traditions or not.

      You may think Ms. Warren is just one individual, so what difference does it make, right? Well, all those groups, those fake tribes, are made up of individuals. Maybe alone, an individual won't cause much harm, but when they get together and form groups, then they can. If we allow someone as high profile as Ms. Warren to get away with it, then everyone else will expect to get a free pass as well.

      And as for getting something simply because one is Indian, we know that doesn't happen because most Indians don't expect to get anything they didn't earn. But in this case, it seems it might actually have happened because a Caucasian woman played the system and a top university avoided having to hire a woman of color by playing along.

      I have done the genealogy of Ms. Warren and I assure you, she is not Cherokee. Her ancestors moved to Indian Territory, when? The same time many other white families did -- when the land was going to open up and they thought they could get free or cheap land.

      And I agree, there are some pretty disgusting and racist things being written and jokes being made in the media at the expense of Cherokees right now, but the person we have to thank for that is Ms. Warren. Had she not done the things she has done, it never would have been an issue in the first place.

    5. Wow, Nat-Wu, you miss the point again. Let's assume that the PhD student's claim is true, that you Indian has ever been provided a step up based upon that person's Indian status. So what???? Warren is still a liar. If she is willing to lie about her race then she is willing to lie about just about anything. You obviously want to tell all of us to just sit down and shut up until after the election! What kind of blind, ignorant attitude is that? It is pathetic. Now is the time to call her out about her lies. During an election campaign is the only time anyone is actually going to pay attention to her lies. You want us to simply shut up and stop asking important questions because one PhD student claims that no Indian has ever received a benefit from being Indian? That is illogical. It does not even make sense. She is a liar and she is lying about her ancestry. It IS a matter for public debate and just because you might want to see a Democrat take over the Senate seat in Mass. is NOT a reason for all of us to continue to ask questions and to call out for her lies and to point out that we (the Cherokees) do not claim her.

  6. Warren does have one ancestor with a connection to Cherokee history, but it's probably not something she'd want to brag about:

    "But the most stunning discovery about the life of O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford is that her husband, Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, was apparently a member of the Tennessee Militia who rounded up Cherokees from their family homes in the Southeastern United States and herded them into government-built stockades in what was then called Ross’s Landing (now Chattanooga), Tennessee—the point of origin for the horrific Trail of Tears, which began in January, 1837."

    Much more at the link.

    1. The abundance of the usage of the words "likely" and "apparently" seem to show that the actual research hasn't been done yet. There is no definitive proof published, just hearsay. It is bad journalistic practice to publish something like this without all the facts.

      I, for one, would not accept this story as absolute fact unless and until it is proven that this man is her actual ancestor and records show he is the one who served in the militia in the capacity reported. Until then, it's just hearsay and speculation.

  7. I heard your interview on the Boston radio station this morning. I am glad you are stepping up. I have heard and read about so many native folks who have come forward in the mainstream media and they fully support Elizabeth Warren simply because she says she is a Cherokee. I refer to several of the early articles in ICT where various native professors made all kinds of excuses for Warren. That kind of blind support for someone's claim on ancestry does not help native people but actually is dangerous as you point out in your letter.

    I think you are providing a wonderful resource for folks that see or hear about folks in mainstream culture that claim native ancestry and you wonder if what their claim is true. I'm an enrolled Cherokee living down here in the Houston area and I know I will be visiting your website much more often. Keep up the great work.

  8. awesome post. I hope everyone in Massachusetts reads your article.

  9. Did she check the "Walks on the beach" and "Pina Coladas" boxes too?

  10. Devastating post. I'm glad Drudge linked to it; your blog is interesting.

  11. Thank you for standing up and speaking out regarding this matter. I've spent a great amount of time attempting to verify my Native American ancestry. The disrespect and shown by Warren is reprehensible. I hope your voice is heard.

  12. I saw your appearance on FoxNews re: Ms. Warren's ridiculous claims of Cherokee blood and it brought me back to an unsuccessful attempt years ago to help my mother, my brother & my neices become members of the tribe. My great-great grandmother (Americanized name was Margarite Campbell) was marched down the Trail of Tears, making my mother 1/4 Cherokee. Problem is, my ex wife couldn't find her in the Cherokee Scrolls (this was years ago), though I assure you this claim, unlike Ms. Warren's, is 100% LEGIT! Is there anyway you can help? We'd surely appreciate it. I can be contacted via guntotingliberal @ hotmail . com.

  13. My family is from North Carolina and according to family tradition, both my grandmothers were Cherokee. But can I prove it? Hell no! Most of my family will deny it till their dying day for fear of another Trail of Tears. But generations later, those of us who have lived as white, look back on the Cherokee language, Cherokee traditions, Cherokee medicine and the mighty Cherokee nation and we cherish whatever of that blood still runs in our veins. I see the box on applications and I want to check "YES" for all those who were forced to deny their birth. I have at times. Then I realized I have not earned that right. I have not been under the thumb of the BLM or been a prisoner in my own country. I do not deserve to call myself Cherokee.

    Forgive Elizabeth Warren for an outburst of pride. Don't punish her for wanting to celebrate Cherokee blood.

    Sharon Shelton-Stillson

    1. Once again, Sharon Shelton-Stillson, you completely miss the point. She is not a Cherokee. She doesn't have a Cherokee in her ancestry. It is NOT a matter or whether she is a Cherokee and she just can't prove it. It IS a matter that she is NOT a Cherokee and she is lying when she says that she is. Don't use your particular situation, which is not uncommon by the way, as an lame excuse to defend her fraud. If she is elected she will be the highest ranking fake Indian Wannabee in the history of Congress and she will be put in charge of the Senate Indain Affairs Committee. For you to compare your particular situation to hers in apples and oranges and that comparison does not provide you with some kind of unique insight. The fact is that she is a fake Indian Wannabee that is on the verge of lying her way to the top of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and if she is willing to do that what other things is she willing to lie and steal to do? It is dangerous and your blind defense of her is also dangerous. Stop it now.


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