More than 200 members of the Cherokee Nation and other tribes sent a letter to Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday asking her to more fully recant her past claims of Native American ancestry.
“For Native Americans, this moment is more than an annoyance; it represents the most public debate about our identity in a generation,” the letter read. “Whatever your intentions, your actions have normalized white people claiming to be Native, and perpetuated a dangerous misunderstanding of tribal sovereignty.”
Warren has apologized several times for identifying as Native American during her career as a law professor and for later making public a DNA test that showed she had a native ancestor. The letter, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, said Warren’s previous apologies were not enough. Warren issued a 12-page letter, in which she offered another apology.
“I am not a person of color; I am a white woman,” Warren responded in a letter. “I was wrong to have identified as a Native American, and, without qualification or excuse, I apologize.”
The letter from the Cherokee Nation said Warren has set a “harmful example,” citing a L.A. Times investigation showing that more than $800 million in no-bid federal contracts for minority business owners had been obtained by white people falsely claiming to belong to native tribes.
“You have yet to fully address the harm you have caused,” the letter said. “While your apologies are a step in the right direction, they have been vague and inadequate. Accountability is not justadmitting you made a mistake, but working to correct the harm it caused.”
Warren’s past claims have made her a target of President Donald Trump, who has taunted her by referring to her as “Pocahontas.”
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