This morning, the local Fox affiliate in Boston interviewed Twila Barnes and Ali Sacks, two Cherokee activists who have asked to meet with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). To date, Ms. Warren has refused the request.
Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
Reporter: Yeah, morning Brett, it’s the story that won’t go away. Cherokeegate with Elizabeth Warren. You probably remember there’s going to be a group of Cherokee in town this week trying to meet with Elizabeth Warren. Twila Barnes is here, she is a Cherokee genealogist among others. Ali Sacks is here, she’s with the United Keetoowah Band, if I have that right. What is the purpose of you guys going after Elizabeth Warren this week?
Barnes: We just want to meet with her and show her, her genealogy and see if she will accept the fact that she is not really a Cherokee.
Reporter: There are those that say you are harassing her. Is that what your motive is?
Barnes: We’ve never even met her; how could we harass her? We’ve never been in any area she’s ever been in before, so I don’t know.
Reporter: Ali, what are you looking for if you get to meet with Elizabeth Warren?
Sacks: I think it is important to educate Ms. Warren on the harm that this has created, and for her to keep perpetuating this kind of false — this falseness and these lies that, that are harmful to Natives all across this continent, because Natives are not caricatures. We’re not something that you just jump on the tailcoats of for your benefit, and that is something I think Ms. Warren needs to understand as well as the general population.
Reporter: Twila, she mentioned lies. Do we know that these are lies, because we’re never really sure. You’ve studied her genealogy more than most, what’s your take on it?
Barnes: She claims to be Cherokee through her Crawford line, and there is no Cherokee ancestry there. None.
Reporter: At all.
Reporter: So she says one-thirty second, you say zero-thirty second.
Barnes: There’s none. She’s never — her family has never been associated.
Reporter: What about the elopement?
Barnes: I find that absurd. That — even if she were Indian, and one-sixteenth, her family would look white, I mean, so why would one white family be prejudiced against another? It doesn’t make sense.
Sacks: And everything that we present, we have documented proof. Legal documents, historic documents that back up everything that has been brought forth from our side, and Ms. Warren has failed to present anything to substantiate any of her claims of her history.
Reporter: But here’s my question for the two of you. If I’m Elizabeth Warren, there is no way in hell I’m meeting with you two, because why would I want to continue this story? Nothing good is coming out of this if I’m Elizabeth Warren. So are you ready for her to not meet with you?
Barnes: I think the only way that she can get the story to end is to meet with us and admit that maybe she was mistaken. I mean it doesn’t have to be a bad thing and she doesn’t have to say, “well, I’m lying.” Maybe she was mistaken. Maybe she just needs to acknowledge that her family stories aren’t true and she was mistaken.
Reporter: She did say she wanted per her Harvard listing she was hoping people like her would meet and have lunch, so that wouldn’t be you two because you are actual Indians, so that would be a problem.
Barnes: And we didn’t go to Harvard.
Reporter: What’s the first question you would have for her if you were able to meet with her?
Sacks: I would ask her, you know, can you provide us some kind of proof, something so we can maybe better understand where you are coming from in this situation. I mean, I don’t feel like it’s an attack. We’re seeking the truth, and anytime you’re seeking the truth there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with the truth, and it’s simply all we want.
Reporter: But for her side of it, she would say, “look, we have gone over this, I’ve told you my version of what it is, the people of Massachusetts, at least according to the polls, don’t care about this; they want to move on. Why are you guys bringing it up again?” would be her argument.
Barnes: Because it involves us. We didn’t ask for her to claim to be us; she brought that up. And it’s also, it’s getting to the point, it’s extremely offensive that she keeps wanting to give the credit for bringing this up to Scott Brown. She wants to blame it on him.
Reporter: Well are you a shill for Scott Brown? Are you doing something…
Barnes: We don’t even know him, and it’s almost like she’s trying to say “you guys are just stupid Indian women; you could come up with this on your own and you couldn’t manage to,” it is like she is just assuming we can’t do this.
Sacks: Also, as Native American women, we don’t need a John Smith to save us.
Sacks: And also, this has been a plight of Native Indians long before Scott Brown was born, long before Elizabeth Warren was born. This is something that has gone on and this is something that light needs to be brought to and information needs to be put out there so people will care, so people will understand. This is a wider spread problem than just her and I. This is bigger than the Cherokees; this is all Native Indians.
Reporter: If she has you meet with representatives of her but not her, will that be satisfactory?
Barnes: No. I mean she wanted to meet people like us, what’s the problem? She’s in town this week, she’s celebrating her birthday. She could obviously make a little time for us.
Reporter: Last question for you. You came from Oklahoma and Missouri; did either of you bring me a copy of Pow Wow Chow? I take it no.
Sacks: No, no sir, we didn’t.
Reporter: I have got to get my hands on that cookbook. That’s hard to find here.
Barnes: Well, we could probably give you some authentic Indian recipes, if that’s what you want.
Reporter: Well, good luck in your quest to meet with her. I don’t think you’re gonna have much success here, but enjoy Boston nonetheless.
Barnes: We will.
Reporter: There you go. We’ll of course keep you posted as these two ladies try to meet with Elizabeth Warren.