Elizabeth Warren’s speech to the National Congress of American Indians

Elizabeth Warren’s speech to the National Congress of American Indians

Thank you so much. Thank you for the warm welcome. And I want to start by thanking Chairwoman Andrews-Maltais for the very kind and generous introduction. It has been an honor to work with, to learn from, and to represent the tribes of my home state of Massachusetts, the Aquinnah — and the Mashpee Wampanoag. So it’s a great delight to be here. [applause] I also want to thank President Jefferson Keel, and everyone at the National Congress of American Indians. Thank you for this opportunity to come in and talk to you. For over 70 years, you’ve championed the rights and dignity of First Americans and I am honored to be here with you today. So thank you. [applause] I’ve noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas. So I figured, let’s talk about Pocahontas. Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived, and whose real story has been passed down to so many of you through the generations. Pocahontas – whose original name wasn’t
even Pocahontas. In the fairy tale, Pocahontas and John Smith meet and fall in love. Except Smith was nearly 30 years old, and Pocahontas was about 10 years old. Whatever happened between them, it was no love story. In the fairy tale, Pocahontas saves John Smith from execution at the hands of her father. Except that part is probably made up too. In the fable, her baptism as “Rebecca” and her marriage to a Jamestown settler are held up to show the righteousness of colonization. In reality, the fable is used to bleach away the stain of genocide. As you know, Pocahontas’s real journey was far more remarkable — and far darker — than the myth admits. As a child, she played a significant role in mediating relations between the tribes ruled by her father and the early settlers at Jamestown. Those efforts helped establish early trade relations between the two peoples. Without her help, the English settlers might well have perished. But in her teens, Pocahontas was abducted, imprisoned, and held captive. Oral history of the Mattaponi tribe indicates that she was ripped away from her first husband and child and raped in captivity. Eventually she married another John — John Rolfe. Her marriage led to an uneasy harmony between Jamestown and the tribes, a period that some historians call the Peace of Pocahontas. But she was not around to enjoy it. John Rolfe paraded her around London to entertain
the British and prop up financial investments in the Virginia Company. She never made it home. She was about 21 when she died, an ocean separating her from her people. Indigenous people have been telling the story of Pocahontas — the real Pocahontas — for four centuries. A story of heroism. A story of bravery. A story of pain. And, for almost as long, her story has been taken away by powerful people who twisted it to serve their own purposes. Our country’s disrespect of Native people didn’t start with President Trump. It started long before President Washington ever took office. But now we have a president who can’t make it through a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes without reducing Native history, Native culture, Native people to be the butt of a joke. The joke, I guess, is supposed to be on me. I get why some people think there’s hay to be made here. You won’t find my family members on any rolls, and I’m not enrolled in a tribe. And I want to make something clear. I respect that distinction. I understand that tribal membership is determined by tribes — and only by tribes. [applause] I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead. I never used it to advance my career. But I want to make something else clear too: My parents were real people. By all accounts, my mother was a beauty. She was born in Eastern Oklahoma, on this
exact day — Valentine’s Day — February 14, 1912. [applause] She grew up in the little town of Wetumka, the kind of girl who would sit by herself for hours, play the piano and sing. My daddy fell head over heels in love with her. But my mother’s family was part Native American. And my daddy’s parents were bitterly opposed to their relationship. So, in 1932, when Mother was 19 and Daddy had just turned 20, they eloped. Together, they survived the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. They saved up to buy a home. They raised my three older brothers, and watched as each one of them in turn went off to join the military. After Daddy had a heart attack and was out of work, after we lost the family station wagon and it looked like we would lose our family home and it looked like it was going to all come crashing down, my mother put on her best dress and walked to the Sears and got a minimum-wage job. That minimum-wage job saved our house and saved our family. My parents struggled. They sacrificed. They paid off medical debts for years. My daddy ended up as a janitor. They fought and they drank, but more than anything else, they hung together. 63 years — that’s how long they were married. [applause] When my mother died, a part of my daddy slipped away too. Two years later, I held his hand while cancer
took him. The last thing he said was, “It’s time for me to be with your mother.” And he smiled. They’re gone, but the love they shared, the struggles they endured, the family they built, and the story they lived will always be a part of me. And no one — not even the President of the United States — will take that part of me away. Not ever. [applause] Our stories are deeply woven into the fabric of who we are. The stories of immigrants and slaves, of explorers and refugees, have shaped and reshaped our country right up to the present day. For too long, your story has been pushed aside, to be trotted out only in cartoons and commercials. So I’m here today to make a promise: Every time someone brings up my story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities. [applause] Your story is about contributions. The contributions you make to a country that took so much and keeps asking for more, contributions like serving in the military at rates higher than any other group in America. [applause] It is a story about hope. The hope you create as more Native people go to college, go to graduate school, and grow local economies. It is a story about resilience. The resilience you show as you reclaim your history and your traditions. And it is a story about pride and the determination of people who refuse to let their languages fade away and their cultures die. [applause] I honor that story. But there’s another story that also needs to be told. The story of our mistreatment of your communities. And this isn’t just a story about casual racism – war whoops and tomahawk chops and insulting Facebook memes. It’s a story about discrimination and neglect — the unmet health care needs of Native children and families, the alarmingly high rate of suicide among Native teenagers, the growing opioid crisis and the broader epidemic of substance abuse that has ravaged so many Native communities. It’s a story about greed. For generations — Congress after Congress, President after President — the government has robbed you of your land, suppressed your languages, put your children in boarding schools and given your babies away for adoption. It has stolen your resources and, for many tribal governments, taken away the opportunity to grow and prosper for the good of your people. Even today, politicians in Washington want to let their Big Oil buddies pad their profits by encroaching on your land and fouling your rivers and streams. Meanwhile, even as the economic future of your communities hangs in the balance, they want to cut nutrition assistance, cut Medicaid, and cut other programs that many Native families rely on to survive. It’s a story about violence. It is deeply offensive that this President keeps a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office. [applause] He honors a man who did his best to wipe out Native people. But the kind of violence President Jackson and his allies perpetrated isn’t just an ugly story in a history book. Violence remains part of life today. The majority of violent crimes experienced by Native Americans are perpetrated by non-Natives, and more than half — half — of all Native women have experienced sexual violence. This must stop. [applause] And I promise I will fight to help write a different story. Washington owes you respect. But this government owes you much more than that. This government owes you a fighting chance to build stronger communities and a brighter future — starting with a more prosperous economic future. For example. Banking and credit are the lifeblood of economic development, but it’s about 12 miles on average from the center of tribal reservations to the nearest bank branch. And meanwhile, Native business owners get less start-up funding than other business owners. And when it comes to crucial infrastructure, Native communities are far behind the rest of the country. Rural broadband access on tribal lands is worse than anywhere else in America, and more than a third of those living on tribal lands
don’t have high-speed broadband at all. Without it, Native communities are simply shut out of a 21st century economy. I believe it is time to build opportunity for generations to come by making real investments in Indian country. It’s time. [applause] And that’s only part of the change we can make. We can stop giant corporations from stealing your resources. We can expand federally protected land that is important to your tribes. We can protect historic monuments like Bears Ears from companies that just see it as just another place to drill. We can take steps to stop violence against Native people – including passing Savanna’s Act to fight the plague of missing Native women and children. Most of all, we can fight to empower tribal governments and Native communities so you can take your rightful seat at the table when it comes to determining your own future. And we can fight to make sure that all Americans who have been left out in our economy, left out in our democracy, and left out in our history can take their rightful place at that table. [applause] At a time when children are still drinking bottled water in Flint, when families are still desperate for help in Puerto Rico, and when tribal governments are still asking Washington to live up to its promises, we must demand a federal government that works for all of us. Because if we don’t, we will become a country that works only for a privileged few. That’s why, even when divide-and-conquer looks to some like smart politics, we must choose unity. We must be willing to join together in each other’s fights. And at a time when bigotry threatens to overwhelm our discourse, we must amplify the voices of basic human respect. All of us must stand with everyone who has gotten the short end of the stick over and over and over from Washington. We must weave our voices together to make them strong. We must come together to write a new story, not just for Native Americans, but for all Americans. A story of power and respect. A story in which everyone’s voice can be heard. A story worthy of those who came before us. And a story our children and our grandchildren will be proud to tell. Thank you for having me. Thank you.

95 thoughts on “Elizabeth Warren’s speech to the National Congress of American Indians

  1. What a BEAUTIFUL speech!
    So freaking incredible, I love her. She's so eloquent, and this is EXACTLY how to shut down bigoted people giving her crap for her heritage

  2. Fukin lying toad……. got your free education did you? This stupid bitch could not even run a macdonalds let alone a country…… time to just sit back and laugh ones tits off at this clown….

  3. Box checker!!! It makes me sad that NCAI would be ok with this. I’m Native and I cannot believe she’s trying to act like it’s ok and NCAI thinks it is just wonderful. How annoying.

  4. This woman must be evil to try and continue this obvious lie. She is the same or worse than Hilary Clinton due to her profiting from a lie. No respect for this dirty dog.

  5. Daddy Raised them In a wigwam Elizabeth Grew up With no Tribe but she found hers in politics and now has a net worth 8 million

  6. Beautiful speech, Senator Warren. And thank you for setting the historic record right, even it it is so tragic. The truth, though, must be told. Thank you for telling it.

  7. It's patronizing to assume that the average American confuses a cartoon with actual history. It also had talking raccoons and trees, maybe Senator Warren should do a PSA about that. I respect her for her desire to inspire first Americans, but her naive effort to speak for the first Americans, takes away their agency, and makes their abuses, grievances, and causes hers by proxy. I don't care how she prefaces her speech, in the end, she is exploiting the disadvantage by claiming to speak up for them. She perpetuates this false stereotype that some genetic connection clears her of any guilt. I WILL HELP WRITE A DIFFERENT STORY. This illustrates that you are really continuing the same flawed logic that led to the sins of the past.

    That being said…I do commend her for bringing up the concrete details: the bank details, infrastructure, investments. Its easy to speak about injustice, and inequality, its another thing to act against it, I would have appreciated less of the "I" and more discussion about how she is listening to First American communities, businesses, and families. What does Bob, Jack, Jane or Mary need in their communities? What were her impressions of how to preserve and protect treasured parts of their culture and legacy. For me rhetorical strategy and word choice, although some may consider small and insignificant compared to the substance of her speech, is important in divining her commitment and follow through to these issues. To be up front with you, Warren strikes me as stridently exploitive.

    I don't agree with Trump on much if any thing, but rolling off the backs of the disadvantage doesn't make Warren better. It makes Warren the same. We need a better Democratic party. Not one that reduces complex issues into a never-ending narrative about the poor, and the rich. We (Americans) don't need a hero. We (Americans) need communities with initiative.

  8. Get you story straight —. President Trump wasn’t the first to call you out.
    YOU started it by committing fraud, POCAHONTAS!

  9. Over the years Warren has been criticized by multiple Cherokee activists for claiming their ancestry. Pointing out her lies is not a racial slur. Quotes:

    “She’s not part of the Cherokee community” Chad Smith, who was the principal chief of the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation from 1999 to 2011.

    “We have no proof that Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great-grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith either is or is not of Cherokee descent” Tom Champoux – New England Historic Genealogical Society

    "We've Asked Her to Stop' Claiming Our Ancestry" Native American activist Rebecca Nagle of Oklahoma

    “Sen. Warren needs to accept responsibility for misappropriating Native identity for her own economic and political gain. To help her, I have drafted an apology, which she has my full permission to appropriate. Every last word” Rebecca Nagle

    "As a mixed Native woman, I get to relive the stereotypes that Warren perpetuates every day" Rebecca Nagle of Oklahoma

    “I believe we need a presence there. Warren hasn’t recanted her claims or apologized to the Cherokee people” David Cornsilk, citizen of Cherokee Nation who co-created a group called “Cherokees Demand Truth from Elizabeth Warren.”

    "Cherokees Demand Truth from Elizabeth Warren is a group of authentic Cherokees and descendants devoted to sharing the truth about our history. Our mission is to help people understand what a real Cherokee is and to show why Elizabeth Warren claiming to be Cherokee without proof is harmful and offensive to us." Cherokees Demand Truth from Elizabeth Warren.

    "The team and I have done an exhaustive search on the genealogy of Elizabeth Warren. We have researched ALL of her ancestral lines, but have only posted those she claimed were Indian here in the blog. None of her direct line ancestors are ever shown to be anything other than white, dating back to long before the Trail of Tears." Cherokee genealogist

    "I think there must be a lot of people who either don't understand genealogy and the records available or there are a lot of people who haven't had the time to look. Whatever the reason, it seems people need to see for themselves that Warren's ancestry shows NO indication of Cherokee ancestry or heritage." Cherokee genealogist

    “None of her direct line ancestors are ever shown to be anything other than white, dating back to long before the Trail of Tears.” Cherokee genealogist

    There is historical evidence that one of her acestors rounded up Cherokees for Trail of Tears, though.

    "Ms. Warren’s great-great-great grandfather, was apparently a member of the Tennessee Militia who rounded up Cherokees from their family homes in the Southeastern United States and herded them into government-built stockades in what was then called Ross’s Landing (now Chattanooga), Tennessee–the point of origin for the horrific Trail of Tears, which began in January, 1837."

  10. A woman who speaks the truth, who speaks of honor, and respect. A person who cares about all Americans including the natives. A person unlike our current president who daily insults many people who merely disagree with him. This woman deserves our respect not the insults you can read below

  11. Tony Branham and all the other “dissentors” – you are saying she is telling a lie when your POTUS has been documented telling over 2000 lies since his inauguration? Give me a break.

  12. She'd better come up with something more to prove her heritage than what her Papap and Mapap told her if she runs for President.

  13. Only a fool would buy any of this shit .Lieawhatha feels she has to try to clear her name. To keep her in office, to little to late so vote this douche out

  14. Cherokees (out of all Native Indians) shouldn't try to call someone out. They were giving out "Indian" cards to white people who paid for it. They let anybody in their "nation" who pay for it.

  15. anyone who lives on America's East Coast knows the majority of those American Indians are very mixed. They don't look like Hollywood Indians where they darken the actors up. Elizabeth Warren has Indian ancestry!

  16. The words you spoke while with other tribal people ,was great ,the truths you spoke on Pocahontas were excellent most people doesn't know the truth are even realize the political exploitation was true also , it was true then as is now,, it was about money then and now . thank you my people were sent to oklahoma ,by president Jackson ,,enough about he and defiance of the courts . thank you very much''

  17. Insisting Warren is not part Native American is as idiotic as insisting Obama isn't American.  I suppose she could take an ancestry test but what difference does it make?  Trump called her Pocahontas to belittle her but she isn't belittled.  She's proud of her ancestry and rescuing the historical Pocahontas from the saccharine myth that some script writer invented.

  18. She still did not admit to her lies. She is the worst individual. Pocahontas's lies like Bill Clinton at whore house on the phone with Hilary.

  19. The Affirmative Action used to give preference to minority groups to get into colleges is a shame, because the only meaningful used to consider should be merits. But Warren chose to use it to get her teaching job at Harvard Law School. Whether she is Native American or not is not important. If she is fair why not get her job like anybody else– that is her own merits.

  20. Lizzy says in relation to here Native heritage …… "Every time somebody brings up my story, I'm gunna…….. " For a split second there I though she was going to say…… "Show them my DNA test". LOL……

  21. Indians are racist as they won't let me join their tribe, even though I was born a male and self identify as a female apache midget lesbian.


  23. It sounds as if Ms. Warren's parents told her a romantic story which she still believes although almost the first thing she said is that there is no record of First Americans in her family. But the story is still important to her. And even though of course everything that a politician says is politically motivated I have no reason to think she doesn't honestly want to work to improve the lives of people in need.

  24. A lot of ' Trump ' Assholes montoring this Wonderful Lady, Ms. Warren is a wonderful lady and I plan to elect HER as President !!!! FUCK the rest of you !!!!! JOHN

  25. "I had a Dream" that after a night at the Capitol Hill bar I woke up really hung over the next morning. There in my Bed was was a real Indian Princess.Yup! It was "Pook a Haut Us." "Elizabeth Warren Raw." I started screaming and ran like a democrap out of he Hotel Room.. "This was the worst Nightmare ever.." "I no longer want a Dream." God Bless the Greatest President in American History. The Honorable Donald J Trump. "Fighting each and every day for Truth, Justice and the American Way." Captain America to the World.

  26. Hey Liz, get a casino going for a tribe and they will make you an honorary indian; might even almost legitimize your claims that got you a paying position as an Ethnic qualified teacher…..Also quit wearing that Chief's Headdress, for guys only….

  27. Great charity opportunity! We are working on a GoFundME campaign now to generate $500k for Elizabeth Warren's favorite charity. In exchange for a 23&me DNA test that will be released publically as such we will deposit the $500k into Elizabeth Warren's favorite charity. Fantastic Opportunity! Stay tuned as we get closer to the election cycle. Cheers

  28. how do you know when a lying bitch is lying, when her lips are moving vote this fake American native out, very sad story just another lie when does it stop vote this bitch out when they go low we go high put down the piece pipe

  29. LOL You hypocrite!

    Congratulations, Betsy, you've proven exactly nothing …except that you're an idiot, an educated moron. The closest your "DNS Test" gets is 1/1024 Native American. But that proves NOTHING in terms of which nation. Furthermore, the average amount of Native American for European-Americans is more than what you have. Your ignorance is astounding.

    Here is what the Cherokee Nation had to say about your stunt: "A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Sen. Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage."

    Great Job, Betsy. Now you've managed to anger and disgust the Cherokee Nation.

    You are a fraud and a gamer of the system.

  30. She wants to be the Native American spokeswoman trying to unbury buried hatchets. Agitate, piss off, anger and breed unrest. She is not native American, she is an appropriator an exploitor and a LAWYER Who thinks she can talk, talk, talk her way into a power position through victim and race bating to stir up feelings of anger.


  32. I've got nothing against people researching their roots, but to use the results as part of a political campaign is royally lame. If instead Madame Warren based her 2020 bid on how she has pushed hard to make white collar big wigs and Wall St. accountable for the global crash they created in 2008, and to reestablish the financial regulations and oversight that have been chiseled to dust since the mid-80s to help keep that kind of crap from happening again, then she would earn a lot of people's support. At least those with brains and souls.
    Forget the idiots with the red hats – they just want to keep their guns and keep the U.S. predominantly Caucasian.

  33. If you read Sen. Warren's book, A Fighting Chance, you will learn about her life, and more importantly, her understanding of what has happened to the Middle Class in our country.  Knowledge is strength.

  34. Regardless of her ancestry, her actions show whose side she is on. She has always sides with working people everywhere, especially minorities but also others in the rust belt. She fights for us all. Washington owes Americans more than the crooks and bigots in charge now. We need leaders like Warren and nothing Trump says can silence her. She is everything we need in a leader: thoughtful, moral and fierce!

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