While President Donald Trump disparages Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry by calling her “Pocahontas,” the democrat from Massachusetts is throwing the ball right back.
During a speech to the National Congress of American Indians in Washington Wednesday, the 68-year-old who has been questioned over claims of her ethnicity since at least 2012, said she has never used her heritage to get ahead, and hit back at Trump for repeatedly calling her “Pocahontas” throughout the 2016 presidential elections.
“Our country’s disrespect of native people didn’t start with President Trump. It started long before President Washington ever took office,” she said in a set of prepared remarks. “So I’m here today to make 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.”
She added that it is “deeply offensive” that “this president” has hung President Andrew Jackson’s portrait in the Oval Office. Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that led to the Trail of Tears.
In response to allegations that her career got a leg up thanks to her heritage claims, Warren reiterated that her ancestry has had no such impact.
“And I want to make something clear. I respect that distinction. I understand that tribal membership is determined by tribes—and only by tribes,” she said, noting that she is not part of a tribe. “I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead. I never used it to advance my career.”
Warren has come under fire in the past for claiming Native American heritage and providing no more than anecdotal evidence. Former Massachusetts Governor Scott Brown has called for Warren to take a DNA test. She did claim to be a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory, though she did not do the same in college applications.
Here are Warren’s prepared remarks in their entirety: