Elizabeth Warren's Ancestry

I’m not 100% clear on this one yet, so how about we discuss here this separate issue from Trump’s racist attacks and choices of nomenclature about Elizabeth Warren:

Does Elizabeth Warren have indigenous ancestry? Is she right or wrong to tell others that she remembers older relatives telling her she does? Has Warren said or done anything or enough to deserve lambasting for cultural appropriation? Is the right making a bigger deal than warranted out of this topic? What’s the evidence, yea or nay, that Warren has been opportunistic with such claims about her background? Has she actually claimed that she’s endured racism because of her bloodlines?


If you want, I can reproduce what I just wrote over there, specifically about genealogy and DNA results.

1 Like

Thanks – I was already tempted, it’s great info:


I’m not sure claiming to have a bit of ancestry is disingenuous. What her employer did with that information is strictly up to the university. However, a lot of Native American history is based upon oral tradition so I don’t know why she’d necessary be mistaken.


It’s characterizing an individual person for claiming to be something they weren’t.

I agree Trump is racist. And I’d say this nickname is unfair since Warren, even if she’s not native, was making a good-faith claim based on family history.

But just because Trump is racist doesn’t mean everything he says is racist. And claiming he was being racist when there’s a solid non-racist interpretation, makes it that much easier for his defenders to claim he’s not being racist in general by giving them an easy case to start with.

I haven’t followed enough to know if there’s good reason to think the claims were mistaken.

He claims she did. That doesn’t mean he’s racist, it means he’s lying.

Though there’s not really a good compact term for referring to native americans, I’ve heard Amerindian but that’s hardly widespread.

Yes it is, that’s been his claim all along. The audience response is racist since they’re performing a racist caricature of natives. But Trump’s claim isn’t that she native, but that she invented a fake aboriginal ancestry.

1 Like

The audience response (war hoops) was racist though I’m not sure the specific “Pocahontas” nickname is racist.

The issue is that Elizabeth Warren claimed to have a bit of native American ancestry, and a university employer previously advertised her as being part native, but this is all based of a family oral history and could have been mistaken.

Trump is claiming that she lied about being native for political or professional advancement. So Trump’s not actually trying to insult natives, he’s trying to make fun of Warren for making a (possibly) false claim to be part native.

Now I don’t think that’s a fair insult to Warren, but for once I don’t think Trump is being racist.


Invoking Pocahontas and throwing around terms like “the Indian” is still racist, in part because it reduces an entire ethnic group into a stereotype.

Consider the following scenarios:

Politician mentions unconfirmed oral family history that they have Latin-American ancestry:
“Oh, look at Pancho Villa over here!”

…African American ancestry:
“Check out Harriet Tubman!”

…East Asian ancestry:
“Oh, you mean the Oriental?”


I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure that using an ethnic term as a way to denigrate someone is pretty much the textbook definition of racism. The fact that it is stupidly and weakly applied doesn’t mean that it isn’t racist, and I would bet that his acolytes know exactly why he is using it.


It’s characterizing an individual person by race so, yes, racist.

Racists often want to claim they were pure of heart so not racist. It’s more of a strict liability offense. Most racism is unconscious.

But if you think that racist fucker doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing, you haven’t been paying attention.

He wants to rally a big enough mob of bullies that he can shut down “the politically correct liberals” and escape accountability for his prior bad acts.


Calling her “Pocahontas” and getting “war whoops” from the audience is not a claim of doubt as to her ancestry.

It’s a claim that her purported ancestry is something that defines her as other.

And that claim is like a lit match on the oil spill that is American racial tensions, especially post-Obama.

He’s just being a racist in front of a bunch of racists who feel like they can be racist with impunity now that a major political party is nominating an open racist for the highest elected office that the country has to offer. Like, it’s OK to be racist now.


I guess I misunderstood your earlier quote?


It’s racist because he wants it to be racist. He was looking for exactly the reaction he got: war whoops from his audience. They’re thrilled to have a candidate they can relate to, who tells them it’s great to be racist. They weren’t cheering because they have doubts about the veracity of her ancestral claim. This has been the Republican strategy since Nixon, and I don’t even see it getting weaker.


I’m not sure the specific “Pocahontas” nickname is racist.

Whatever you say, Huckleberry.


"He needs to quit using language like that,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the Chickasaw tribe and one of two Native Americans in the House. “It’s pejorative , and you know, there’s plenty of things that he can disagree with Elizabeth Warren over, this is not something that should, in my opinion, ever enter the conversation. . . . It’s neither appropriate personally toward her, and frankly, it offends a much larger group of people. So, I wish he would avoid that.”

Via WaPo


When this issue surfaced years ago - it was thoroughly researched by Cherokee genealogist Twila Barnes who calls Warren’s claims “ethnic fraud” - see blog (link not allowed)

Coverage of the time in Indian Country Today also underscores serious issues embedded in the story:

Cherokee Women Try to Meet With Elizabeth Warren; Campaign Offends Them

“Elizabeth Warren has avoided taking responsibility for her false ethnic claims by avoiding a group of Cherokee women who traveled hundreds of miles just to spend time with her,” says David Cornsilk, a United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians citizen, who has created a Facebook group drawing attention to the Warren controversy. “Warren claimed she wanted to meet others like herself while claiming to be a Cherokee, yet when presented with the chance to actually talk to four authentic Cherokee women representing membership in all three of the federally recognized Cherokee tribes; she flees like a scared rabbit.”

Cornsilk, the managing editor of the independent Cherokee Observer newspaper, says that the campaign has made matters worse by denouncing the visitors: “Rather than recognizing the fact that someone might have the intelligence and wherewithal to come to their own conclusions about her claim and pay their own way to visit her, Warren resorts to the oldest political tactic in her book of dirty politics, by denouncing her visitors as extremists, paid shills of her opponent’s campaign or worse still, incapable of thinking on their own.”

See Indian Country Today (link not allowed)

1 Like


Ok, well, yes, I agree the Cherokee perspective is most relevant. That’s why I tried to raise the knowledge of Twila Barnes - she’s done better work than anyone in this area - and I included a section of an article from Indian Country Today that also was contextual re Warren issues.

I admit to this thread/site confusing me as I can’t even see where my comments went/are. When I originally posted it looked to me that there was only a single comment. Now, I am seeing dozens of comments and they aren’t chronological etc. I think I’ll try and figure out how to read this page entry - for if my contributions are misinterpreted as spam, there’s clearly some things I need learn about how people discuss in this forum.

My bottom line is - really good research on any topic is rare. So, if you folks don’t already know Barnes’ blog - it’s more than worthwhile. And, while I’ve never had contact with her, my sense is that since she was unafraid to speak publicly about such things in 2012 now that Elizabeth Warren is in the news again, there seems no reason to not write Barnes’ today for her perspective on any questions etc. not already covered in her blog.

1 Like

Ok, for whatever reason, when I first came to this page - I saw the article, but only one comment in reply. I thought it relevant and helpful at that point to consider the work of a genealogist who has really done topnotch research on the Cherokee line - not just re Warren, but other parties. Now I see there are 113 or so comments. And, the discussion is about something different, as you’re pointing out.

You’re right. Trump really is racist. Thanks for changing my mind!


It means if you were a robot mining for stories on Indians/Native Americans and posting links, then it would be understandable that you seem to fail to grasp the crux of what many people disagree with what Trump said.

NO ONE is defending Elizabeth Warren and her claims of Cherokee Heritage. Heck, if Trump had just mud slinged calling her a phony for saying she had Cherokee heritage, I don’t think anyone would care.

The issue - the reason Trump is wrong - the reason 100+ comments have been made is because Trump was calling her “Pocahontas” in a derogatory way. I mean if he was 12 and didn’t know better, I’d give him a free pass too. But he isn’t. Is anyone surprised at this point? I doubt it. But your posts seem to either ignore this fact, or somehow you are confused that anyone is supporting Warren’s false claims.