Surprise: Elizabeth Warren turns up at Native American event to defend her Native American-ness

This can only mean that she’s deadly serious about running in 2020 and is trying to defuse the “Fauxcahontas” attacks early. Which is to say, as Ben Shapiro puts it, she’s sending some serious smoke signals.

There’s no video yet as I write this but Warren is tweeting about it:

Here’s that link to her full remarks at the Boston Globe, which, coincidentally, ran a story just three weeks ago about how Warren has yet to disperse the cloud handing over her due to her highly dubious claims of Native American ancestry in the past. Trump and Republicans have been her chief tormentors on that but some liberals — and real Native Americans — are annoyed about it too.

“She’s not part of the Cherokee community,” said Chad Smith, who was the principal chief of the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation from 1999 to 2011. “She hasn’t reached out. She hasn’t come here and participated much.”

“The mark of value in claiming heritage is: Do you use your position to give back?” Smith said. “If it is a claim that is valuable to her, she should be helping Indian country. She might be doing it with the overall agenda. But unless she’s contributing back, it is a somewhat hollow claim.”…

[Cherokee historian David] Cornsilk described himself as a liberal who supports Warren’s agenda of attacking income inequality. “Warren could be an ally,” Cornsilk said. “But she will not be an ally that we will accept if she continues to claim Cherokee and Delaware heritage without proof.”

I can’t believe real Native Americans would question the authenticity of a woman who contributed to a book called “Pow Wow Chow.” (Bonus fact: She apparently lifted her recipes from a newspaper.) Either way, the hint from Boston’s hometown paper that she hadn’t addressed a major political liability and probably should do so soon if she’s planning to run for president was taken, leading to her surprise appearance at this morning’s tribal summit. She ran through some history of the real Pocahontas in her speech, recounted how her parents met and raised a family, then endeared the crowd to her by vowing to use them as human shields from now on whenever someone calls her on her BS about minority ancestry:

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 far 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 family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities

But there’s another story that also needs to be told. The story of our country’s 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.

She concluded by pointing to her face and shouting, “Muh cheekbones.” Needless to say, today’s message was the only move she could make to deal with this problem: The point of the speech is that, whether or not she’s actually Native American (she’s still claiming she is), she’s going to be enough of a champion for Native Americans going forward that they’ll be inclined to defend her when the “Fauxcahontas” stuff starts up again in earnest circa 2019. She wants to get to a place politically where mocking Warren for her cynicism in treating 1/32 Cherokee ancestry as some meaningful “diversity” credential is treated as mocking Native Americans themselves, at least enough to make her enemies think twice about doing it. If she can’t be a real Native American, honorary Native American status will work almost as well for her purposes.

As for deterrence, though, who are we kidding? If Warren’s the nominee in 2020, Trump will ride the “Fauxcahontas” material for the entire campaign. There’ll be war whoops and Warren-as-Chief-Wahoo merchandise being sold at Trump rallies. The tomahawk chop will replace “Lock her up” as the GOP rallying cry. The convention will look like a Florida State home game, says Stephen “redsteeze” Miller. In a climate like that, forced to choose between criticizing the Democrat who’s pandering to them for support and a GOP that’s using Native American stereotypes to attack her, Native Americans might well swing around behind Warren. But whether or not it works out for her, this is her only play. What’s she supposed to say six years after this scandal began? “Oops, looks like I wasn’t Cherokee after all”? If she didn’t care much about Native American issues before, she does now. A lot. And will until November 3, 2020.

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