Election 2020

Warren Denies Receiving 'Any Benefit' as a Result of Her Native-American Lie

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

On Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-1/1024th of a Plan) once again denied receiving “any job” or “any benefit” from her false claim to Native American status. In humiliating remarks during a New Hampshire town hall, Warren explained why she lied, admitted that she is not a “person of color,” and again insisted she did not benefit from the lie.

“My three older brothers and I learned about our family the same way most people do, from our mom and from our dad. My family’s very important to me and that’s why — many years ago — I sometimes identified as Native American. Boston Globe did a big investigation about this, gosh, about a year and a half ago. Never had anything to do with any job I ever got or any benefit,” Warren said.

“But even so, I shouldn’t have done it. I am not a person of color, I am not a citizen of a tribe and I have apologized for confusion I have caused on tribal citizenship, tribal sovereignty, and for any harm that I have caused,” she concluded.

Warren has consistently denied receiving benefits from her false claim to Native-American heritage, but Americans are rightly skeptical.

In 1984, Warren submitted five recipes for the book Pow Wow Chow: A Collection of Recipes from Families of the Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole. Each recipe listed her as “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee.” Radio host Howie Carr alleged that her recipes were forgeries.

She listed herself as “American Indian” on a registration form for the Texas State Bar in 1986. The Association of American Law Schools listed her as a minority law teacher from 1986 to 1994. During that time, she taught at the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania, and then Harvard University in 1995. In 1996, a Harvard Law School spokesman referred to her as a Native American.

Warren’s claim that her Native-American lie never got her a job seems rather suspect, but the statement that she never received any “benefit” from the lie is demonstrably false. Any proceeds from Pow Wow Chow arguably fall into that category.

When Warren had a DNA test to “prove” her Cherokee status, the Cherokee Nation condemned this insult to their tribe.

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. “Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America.”

“Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation,” Hoskin explained. He also suggested that Warren’s DNA test belittled DNA tests in general.

“Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong,” he added. “It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

Perhaps in an attempt to smooth over her relations with Native-American tribes, she later released a $10 billion plan to address America’s broken promises.

Warren is trying desperately to put this whole charade behind her, but in her very denials, she is raising the issue yet again. While her outright admission — “I am not a person of color, I am not a citizen of a tribe” — is a step in the right direction, she won’t fully put the scandal behind her until she tells the truth about just how she benefitted. Merely by repeating the claim that she never benefitted, she is keeping the scandal alive.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.