Senator Elizabeth Warren, who just announced that she will run for president in 2020, has become embroiled in a debate over her Native American heritage, which her family and Harvard Law School gave her. She was asked to explain this record on Tuesday night at the CNN Democratic debate in Nevada. Here are the highlights:
1. Warren’s family gave her a Native American heritage as far back as the 1930s.
Per Warren, after living on a Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma for a few years, she decided that she would graduate from Bryn Mawr High School on Cape Cod and then transfer to Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Massachusetts, and found her tribe.
“While many of my ancestors made it out, it was the memories of the auntie and uncle who were on the council that were still there on the reservation who took me on a hunting trip to learn more about my ancestors,” she said.
The Warren campaign posted a 1999 interview with Warren, in which she said that her great-great-great-great grandparents were of Cherokee descent.
2. To the Harvard Law School faculty, Warren’s background “was never an issue.”
Turns out, Professor Elizabeth Warren is, in fact, an Indian. pic.twitter.com/6hQeZthrKD — CNN () February 18, 2020
3. No one at Harvard thought any of this was a problem.
Warren said that Native American tradition of sheredity is quite simply the norm in the family. She is part American Indian, and as far as she knows, her five cousins are all sheredass people, and none of them could ever have imagined that they were related to her. (This sounded like something Trump would say, no?)
“I think that was a common practice in our family in terms of who would get credit,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about it.”
So why did she fill out the papers, at the behest of law school professor Louis Brandeis?
“There was no record, no documented history of tribes changing their admissions policies,” she said.
4. She has nothing to hide.
“I was working hard, I was studying, I was an attorney — now people are accusing me of not being transparent,” she said.
5. “Donald Trump’s recent attack is a new low.”
Well, that’s not really true. Aside from the fact that Trump is aware that the original racist — Roger Taney — wrote the Supreme Court decision that upheld Dred Scott and denied citizenship to African Americans, there has been no evidence presented that Taney was ever asked about his own ancestry. More important, Warren has not spoken about her ancestors, except in a casual fashion. The fact that he wants to go after her because of that is offensive.
6. She has been attacked for her record by two presumptive Democratic presidential nominees, and questioned by Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“I have been attacked by a real estate mogul who started his career by ripping off people who are blind and disabled,” she said. “I have been attacked by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump who started his career with no college education and got out by cheating people out of their hard-earned money.”