Friday, October 19, 2012

The Bay State Banner's Confusion on Indian Identity and Racism

There are no curse words in Cherokee. My full blood friend told me that is why we learned to do it so well in English. And tonight, I was showing just how proficient I have become at it. In truth, I think I was doing so well, I might have actually made up some new bad words. I was spewing language that would make a sailor blush. Do you wonder what caused such a reaction from me, a woman who usually tries to display a bit of ladylike behavior?

In an editorial in the Bay State Banner, the writer said,

“Discrimination against Native Americans was also pervasive. It would have been demeaning for a white family to acknowledge any Indian ancestry. That is probably why Warren did it. She wanted to be clear that she was not failing to recognize any of her diverse family. Warren is so competent and talented she did not need special ethnic privileges. It must have been a matter of pride for her to claim her achievements on behalf of her ancestors who may well have been considered to be inferior and were undoubtedly the victims of racial discrimination.”

This writer is exploiting our painful past in an effort to demonize Scott Brown while attempting to portray Elizabeth Warren as a victim. This is absolutely unacceptable. Elizabeth Warren is not a victim, but instead a perpetrator of the continued colonization of the Cherokee people.  While she unapologetically continues to claim a history and ancestry that does not belong to her, she is, by default, saying she can take anything she wants from the Cherokee Nation and its people. 

I want to make one thing very clear here – Warren has NO Cherokee ancestry. She has NO Indian ancestry. None, nada, zilch! This is key, folks. WARREN HAS NO INDIAN ANCESTRY. Do I need to say it again? WARREN HAS NO INDIAN ANCESTRY! There, do you get it? She is not Indian and has no Indian ancestry!

This writer also says, 

“Brown’s crude assault on her ethnic heritage was unconscionable.”

Scott Brown cannot be assaulting Warren’s ethnic heritage because she doesn’t have one! In my humble Cherokee opinion, Brown is asking the questions that need to be asked. Did Elizabeth Warren, a non-minority, fill a spot at Harvard that should have gone to a minority professor? She is not registered with a federally recognized tribe and she has no Indian ancestry, so there is no reason she should have been listed as a Native American for diversity purposes.  Because she was, it brings into question the reason she was hired at Harvard since her public educational background is not in line with the rest of the tenured faculty at the college. Brown bringing this issue to the forefront is not a matter of attacking her heritage, but instead a matter of questioning her integrity. It is appropriate.

Elizabeth Warren, her supporters, and the mainstream media using the history of American Indians to portray Warren as a victim and Brown as a racist, is not appropriate. It is unconscionable that they would think it is acceptable to appropriate the persecuted past of our families and use that past in a way to portray Warren, an ethnic fraud, as a victim. It is outrageous they would attempt to use us and our heritage to claim Brown is a racist when he has, in no way, personally and intentionally, done anything disrespectful toward us or our ancestors.  
American Indians are an invisible minority, often overlooked, and usually silenced by those who stand on a higher platform or who have a louder voice. Cherokees have been trying to draw attention to false claims for years, but no one heard us or cared. When Scott Brown confronted Elizabeth Warren’s ethnic fraud, finally an issue that is important to many tribal members appeared on a nationwide stage. Whether intentional or accidental, Brown confronted one of the biggest threats to tribal sovereignty today – false claims of Indian ancestry.
As the writer of the editorial shows, Warren and her supporters have no respect for the tribal sovereignty of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes. Because Warren has no defense for her ethnic fraud, she and her supporters are trying to turn Brown’s speaking in defense of things that fall under tribal sovereignty into an attack on race.
The irony here is that Warren is the candidate who, though claiming to have American Indian heritage, refuses to speak to or interact in any way with tribally enrolled Indians. It doesn’t matter if it is a small group of Cherokee women; a group of Democratic National Delegates; or a Native journalist. If a person identifies themselves as an Indian, Warren will avoid them.
At the very least, singling out an ethnic community for dismissal is disrespectful. Though plenty of people have found Brown's conduct unnerving, he has spoken directly to Indians in an adult and reasonable way and has addressed issues as they occurred. Warren, on the other hand, has declined to even give a comment to Native media outlets that have asked for one. Highlighting one candidate's missteps while ignoring another candidate's hatefulness is misguided because it means the person is using outrage to whitewash a complex issue. If anyone was actually concerned about racism against Native Americans, they would be talking about all of the offensive things that have occurred in this race, including those committed by Warren, instead of just attacking Brown.
Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2012, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth Warren has no integrity. To falsely claim a heritage based on family "lore," especially by a law professor, is abhorrent. I believe she knew what she was doing and did it anyway. And, I believe she knows she's been "caught," but refuses to back down because she feels superior to authentic Cherokee people.


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