Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday sought to clear up questions about her claims of Native American ancestry during an unexpected appearance at the National Congress of American Indians Tribal Nations Policy Summit in Washington.
Ms. Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, stood by her claim that she is part Cherokee and Delaware Indian, saying her parents chose to elope because her mother was part Native American, and her father’s parents did not approve of the marriage.
“I get why some people think there’s hay to be made here,” she said, according to a transcript provided to the Boston Globe. “You won’t find my family members on any rolls, and I’m not enrolled in a tribe.”
Ms. Warren said of her parents, “the love they shared, the struggles they endured, the family they built, and the story they lived will always be a part of me.”
“And no one — not even the president of the United States — will ever take that part of me away,” Mrs. Warren said.
Ms. Warren said she “never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead” and “never used it to advance my career.”
The surprise appearance at the conference came a month after the Boston Globe ran a story in which Democrats and political observers speculated that Mrs. Warren’s 2020 political aspirations could be hurt if she did not do a better job of explaining why she identified as Native American in the past.
It also came a day after the Republican National Committee mocked Mrs. Warren’s absence from the lineup of speakers at the event, saying “Fauxcahontas” was likely a no-show because she didn’t want to answer questions about her heritage claims.
The allegations have dogged Ms. Warren since her 2012 Senate bid when reports emerged that said she was identified as a minority in the Association of American Law Schools’ directory of law professors from 1986 to 1995, and that the New England genealogical society could find no proof to support her claims, which she previously has said were based on family lore.
Ms. Warren’s congressional office did not respond to a request from The Washington Times Tuesday for a response to the RNC’s charge, which echoed a familiar line of attack from President Trump, who has repeatedly called her “Pocahontas.”
In her speech Wednesday, Ms. Warren pushed back at Mr. Trump, shaming him for using the story of “Pocahontas” for political gain.
She said it’s “a story of heroism. And bravery. And pain.”
“And, for almost as long, her story has been taken away by powerful people who twisted it to serve their own purposes,” she said. “Our country’s disrespect of Native people didn’t start with President Trump. It started long before President Washington ever took office.”
“But now we have a president who can’t make it through a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes without reducing Native history, Native culture, Native people to the butt of a joke,” Ms. Warren said.