Elizabeth Warren Fighting 'Pocahontas' Label
Politico sees a 'stealth campaign' as she champions Native American issues
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2018 7:40 AM CST
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asks questions during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – President Trump's favorite nickname for potential 2020 rival Elizabeth Warren? Yes, "Pocahontas." The Massachusetts senator has accused the president of repeating a "racial slur" every time he uses it, but a story in Politico suggests that Warren is not only worried about the controversy, she's actively working to defuse it through a "stealth campaign." This effort began with a surprise speech earlier this month to the National Congress of American Indians in which she said she has "never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead," and then made a promise: "Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities." Warren also has met with about a dozen tribal leaders and activists and signed on to half a dozen bills promoting Native American policy.

All of this stems from Warren listing herself as having Native American ancestry years ago in a staff directory at Harvard Law School, though she has only family stories to back up the claim. (See FactCheck.org for a thorough rehashing.) Warren's speech has generally been well received by Native American groups, per Politico, though Cherokee writer Rebecca Nagle has a more nuanced assessment: "I believe Warren that she grew up with stories of distant Cherokee relatives," she writes in the Boston Globe. "I just don’t see how those stories could be true." Moreover, she doesn't understand how Warren doesn't come to the same conclusion given the "mountain of evidence." However, Nagle makes clear she'd like Trump and other non-Natives to butt out. "Native people are the authority on who is and who is not native. Period."

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