8/20/2019 12:22:00 PM Warren offers public apology to Native Americans over past claim to tribal heritage
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren offered a public apology Monday to Native Americans over her past claim to tribal heritage, directly tackling an area that’s proved to be a big political liability.
“Like anyone who has been honest with themselves, I know I have made mistakes,” the Massachusetts senator said at a forum on Native American issues in this pivotal early voting state. “I am sorry for the harm I have caused.”
Monday’s remarks were an effort to move past the fallout from her past claims of tribal ancestry, which culminated in a widely criticized release of a DNA analysis last year. The issue nearly derailed her campaign in the early days as President Donald Trump began derisively referring to her as “Pocahontas.”
Now that Warren is gaining in most polls, she’s trying to prove to voters that the controversy won’t doom her in a general election matchup against Trump. The detailed policy agenda to help Native Americans that she released last week helped her secure a warm reception from attendees at the tribal forum.
After drawing a standing ovation, Warren said “I have listened and I have learned a lot” from conversations with Native Americans in recent months, describing herself as “grateful” for the dialogue. She fielded questions about her proposals, which include a legislative change for a Supreme Court ruling that impedes tribal governments’ ability to prosecute crimes committed on tribal lands by those who don’t belong to a tribe.
She did not receive any questions about her own background.
Warren’s DNA analysis — part of a broader pushback against Trump’s disparaging nickname — showed evidence of a tribal ancestor as far as 10 generations back, but the Cherokee Nation joined some other Native Americans in rebuking the senator for attributing tribal membership to genetics. Warren later apologized privately to the Cherokee and had addressed her regret before Monday’s appearance.
The Native American forum this week is expected to draw 10 of her White House rivals.