Democratic voters have by and large forgotten about Elizabeth Warren’s “Pocahontas” moment. But the Cherokee Nation has not.
In an open letter to Warren, hundreds of Cherokee citizens said that Warren’s “history of false claims to American Indian identity” is still disturbing, even if the media no longer cares.
“For Native Americans, this moment is more than an annoyance; it represents the most public debate about our identity in a generation. In a country where Indigenous people are mostly invisible, what Americans conclude from this debate will impact Native rights for years to come,” they wrote. “Whatever your intentions, your actions have normalized white people claiming to be Native, and perpetuated a dangerous misunderstanding of tribal sovereignty.”
The debate about whether Warren is Native American or white is largely one of identity politics. What’s significant, however, is that Warren, in an attempt to check the boxes, committed an unforgivable deed: cultural appropriation. That misstep still haunts her campaign.