Puggo - Jar Jar’s Yoda said:
Back to politics… A Cherokee Nation official says Sen. Elizabeth Warren “is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.” While I still consider her actions bizarrely disingenuous, I also have to admit that the right’s actions obstructing native American vote is substantively worse.
I very much agree with this statement – the concept of tribal membership has a fraught history. A Cherokee chief (Wilma Mankiller) once said: “An Indian is an Indian regardless of the degree of Indian blood or which little government card they do or do not possess.” There’s a long history of non-Native people telling Native Americans that they’re not real Indians (Sharice Davids, for a current example) because they don’t fit whatever image they had in their head. There are entire tribes still fighting today for formal recognition as “legitimate Indians”. Issues of tribal membership are and should be very much the exclusive purview of the tribes. So on issues of tribal membership, I defer to the tribes. A genetic test cannot support claims of specific tribal membership, only Native ancestry in a general sense.
While clearly Warren’s family history was largely correct, and she never claimed more than the tiny fractional ancestry that she recently found evidence to support, I think her family was far enough removed from tribal politics that they didn’t recognize the implications of naming a specific tribe. It’s likely that her Native American ancestor did speak Cherokee, which is why she was identified as such by Warren’s family, but that’s not the same thing at all as being a member of the Cherokee Nation. Warren conflated those concepts and should not have, and in doing so stepped over the line of tribal sovereignty. The Cherokee Nation is rightly aggrieved. Warren’s Native American ancestor may have spoken Cherokee, but she was not Cherokee. Needless generalizations help no one.
I don’t understand, how do we know Warren’s Native American ancestor wasn’t Cherokee? We don’t know anything about her. If she spoke Cherokee, isn’t that a good indication that she came from the Cherokee tribe?