Appearing at the Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa, on Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren apologized for having made unfounded claims of tribal descent.
“Like anyone who’s being honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes,” Warren said before her speech. “I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened, and I have learned a lot.”
Her apology was greeted with applause. Warren was introduced by Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., one of two Native American women in Congress.
Warren, who was born in Oklahoma, had self-identified as part Cherokee in the past, based on what she now concedes was family legend. Although Harvard once listed her as a minority faculty member for statistical purposes, there is no evidence she received any affirmative-action benefits. She never sought membership in the tribe.
Many tribes, including the Cherokee Nation, zealously guard tribal identity and are offended by casual, unsupported claims of descent.
In October 2018, in response to President Trump’s “Pocahontas” taunts, she released the results of a DNA test that showed a minuscule amount of Native American ancestry, some six generations in the past. She privately apologized to the Cherokee Nation for the DNA test.
The controversy threatened to engulf her campaign at its launch, but the Massachusetts senator weathered it, releasing detailed policy proposals while steadily rising in the polls.
An Iowa Starting Line-Change Research poll released last week showed Warren leading among likely Democratic Iowa caucus-goers with 28 percent, 11 points ahead of both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who were tied for second. It was a 16 percent bump from Warren’s support in a similar poll in May.
At a rally in New Hampshire last week, Trump told supporters that he could “revive” the Pocahontas attack against Warren if she becomes the nominee.
“Don’t worry, we will revive it,” the president said. “It can be revived.”
Warren’s appearance at the two-day forum comes following her release of a plan to help Native Americans. Eight other Democratic presidential candidates, including Sanders and Julián Castro, are scheduled to appear.
Earlier Monday, Marianne Williamson drew applause at the Native American when she vowed if elected to remove the portrait of Andrew Jackson from the Oval Office.
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