Boston Herald: Elizabeth Warren Won’t List Herself as Massachusetts’ First Native American U.S. Senator

Daniel Doherty

1/8/2013 6:45:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

You can’t have it both ways, Professor. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true: if you’re a Democrat representing the People’s Republic of Massachusetts -- apparently you can:

Despite repeated claims she is “proud” of her Cherokee heritage, newly minted U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping that pride under wraps and won’t be taking advantage of a chance to officially list herself as the Bay State’s first Native American U.S. senator.

Aides said Warren, who describes herself as part Cherokee and part Delaware Indian, won’t contact historians at the Senate Historical Office to tell them she’s Native American. The office lists minority senators in its official directory.

Warren’s aides refused further comment, but Betty Koed, an associate historian at the Senate Historical Office, said, “If her office wants to call and have her listed, we’d be happy to do so.”

Gee, I wonder why Ms. Warren refuses to list herself as Massachusetts’ first Native American senator. Oh wait, perhaps it’s because she’s unable to produce any serious evidence corroborating her now-debunked ancestral claims. Go figure.

Incidentally, after the Boston Herald first reported last spring that then-candidate Warren listed herself as a racial ethnic minority in a professional journal for nine years (she abandoned the claim in 1995 shortly after receiving tenure at Harvard Law School), I quietly thought to myself, “Well that’s it, her campaign’s finished. There’s no possible way Scott Brown can lose his bid for re-election now.” Sadly, of course, I was mistaken. But even though she won, not everyone is giving her a free pass:

Twila Barnes, a Cherokee who has been a consistent critic of Warren, said her decision is just more proof Warren’s claims are suspect. “I think she just wants this to go away because she knows she has no proof. I think it was something she did to get a job, and it was temporarily convenient,” Barnes said. “She’s saying she’s so proud, then why isn’t she declaring herself and getting involved in Native American issues?”

Several senators from other states have been listed as Native Americans, including Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Northern Cheyenne chief.

The Senate Historical Office’s latest directory now includes U.S. Sen. Maize Hirono (D-Hawaii), an Asian American; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a Hispanic American; and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), an African American.

What an excellent question. Parting thought: Can Senator Warren really avoid this issue for another six years -- and possibly even longer if she seeks re-election in 2018 or a different, higher national office in the not-too-distant future? For what it’s worth, I highly doubt it -- but then again, have her risible claims of Native American ancestry ever been a problem for her in the past? Nah.