On Wednesday afternoon, 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cited her childhood as the reason for claiming “American Indian” as her race on a 1986 Texas State Bar registration card.
Warren said, “This was about 30 years ago, and I am not a tribal citizen, tribes and only tribes determine citizenship. When I was growing up in Oklahoma, I learned about my family the same way most people do. My brothers and I learned from our mom and our dad and our brothers and our sisters, and those were our family stories. But that said, there really is an important distinction of tribal citizenship. I am not a member of a tribe. I have apologized for not being more sensitive to that distinction. It’s an important distinction.”
Warren was born on June 22, 1949. At the time she filled out the document, she was 36.
When asked about critics arguing this was a “knowing attempt to get ahead” by using a false claim of ancestry, Warren said, “So, that is a claim that has been fully investigated. And it has now been shown completely that nothing about my background ever had anything to do with any job I got in any place. It’s been fully documented. And there’s no evidence of any kind other than it had nothing to do, my background had nothing to do.”
When asked if other documents will surface, Warren said, “Look, this is who I grew up believing with my brothers — this is our family’s story and it’s all consistent from that point in time, but as I said, it’s important to note I’m not a tribal citizen and I should have been more mindful of the distinction with tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty.”
She continued, “So all I know is during this time period, this is consistent with what I did because it was based on my understanding from my family’s stories but family stories are not the same as tribal citizenship.”
She added, “My apology is an apology for not having been more sensitive about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty. I really want to underline the point, tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship. It is an issue of tribal sovereignty.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN