Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Elizabeth Warren is not a friend to Indian Country

I have serious concern over Elizabeth Warren's claim that she is a non-enrolled Native American, "proved" by DNA. My concern is best explained with the words of anthropologist Michael Lambert, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He described Cherokee identity politics as a "battle over sovereignty":
"One of the terrains on which this is being fought is that of how we define "Indian." The current effort to define Indian as a racial/cultural group is an effort to extinguish Indian sovereignty. The only way for Indian nations to defend and expand their sovereignty is to make exclusive claim to defining who is Indian and what it means to be Indian...
What does this have to do with non-enrolled Cherokees identifying as such? I see the basis of claims to Indian identity to be political acts. This is, and has been, a battle over sovereignty. One who bases their claim to Indian identity on any basis other than sovereignty is not taking a pro-Indian position."
To be very clear, despite everything Warren said and promised in her speech to the National Congress of American Indians and despite her new efforts to win over Indian country by proposing legislation "for us", she is not taking a pro-Indian position because she continues to claim she's Native American while admitting she is not enrolled. 

Those who insist Warren's DNA test legitimizes her claim are not taking a pro-Indian position either. DNA doesn't define who is or is not an Indian. Only tribes can do that. To say anything else, including DNA, determines who is or is not Indian is a political attack on tribal sovereignty. The three Cherokee Indian nations who have government to government relationships with the United States have said Warren is not Cherokee. That should be the end of it. Unfortunately Warren refuses to let it go.

By trying to make Native American identity about race instead of tribal sovereignty, Warren has done more harm with this DNA test than she ever did with her false claim of being Cherokee. I truly hope authentic Native Americans watch what she does more than they listen to what she says. She is not a friend to us or our tribal governments. Instead, she is a "skeen yoneg" [white devil] and she's leading an attack on tribal sovereignty that could destroy all of us.

The only thing Warren had to do was admit she was wrong and apologize. She not only refused to do that, but pushed back against it until she went too far. Now her time for apology has passed. At this point, the only thing we Native Americans can do to show her how incredibly alarming and offensive her actions have become is to turn our backs on her while asking the American people to join us and do the same.


Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

***For those who might argue she is no longer claiming a tribe but simply the generic label of "Native American",  that is absurd. Until she was called out for her false claim of Cherokee ancestry, she specifically claimed to be Cherokee. She still claims the same lineage and family story, so her claim is still the same even if she no longer publicly identifies as Cherokee.***

copyright 2018, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

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