Free Speech Writing for Elizabeth Warren

“When I was a little girl growing up in Oklahoma, I heard family stories about Cherokee ancestors, just like a lot of families. I loved the stories; my cousin even wrote a cookbook of what he and I thought were authentic Cherokee recipes. Later, when I came to Harvard, an article in the Crimson described me as a ‘Native American professor.’  I never bothered to consider how insensitive and hurtful it was to citizens of the Cherokee Nation and other Native Americans for people like me, with no documented Indian ancestors, to make such claims. Even though I never sought any professional advantage based on my family history, I should’ve known better. Harvard should’ve known better. Listing me as a Native American was an insult to the many authentic Indian lawyers, law professors and law school deans. I apologize for my insensitivity to all Native Americans and to the Cherokee in particular, who are plagued by fake tribes and fake claimants who steal and dilute their heritage and culture. But I am also offended by my political opponents who made hay of this issue by using racist terms like ‘squaw’ and ‘Pocahantas’. Such language is hateful and I call upon Senator Brown to join me in condemning it. What’s more, I call on Senator Brown and all Republicans to drop their obstruction of the Violence Against Women Act and in particular their efforts to prevent tribal courts from regaining jurisdiction over non-Indians who abuse Indian women. Native American women are two-and-a-half times more likely than any other group to be the victims of domestic violence, mostly at the hands of non-Indians.  Because tribal courts were stripped of jurisdiction over violent crimes and crimes committed by non-Indians on Indian land, these horrible attacks on women and children often go unpunished. The Justice Department has utterly failed Indian Country with its pitiful record of prosecution.  In fact, the Justice Department can’t even be bothered to keep statistics on crimes reported, investigated or prosecuted.  I may not be Indian myself, but as your senator I will work tirelessly to protect Indian women and children from abuse. We owe the first Americans no less.”
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