A U.S. senator who has made widely disputed claims of American Indian heritage has signed a letter that blasts the NFL for not forcing the owners of the Washington Redskins to change the team’s name.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is among 50 Democrat senators who signed the letter addressed to Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League.
“Now is the time for the NFL to act. The Washington, D.C., football team is on the wrong side of history,” the letter says.
It points out that the National Basketball Association recently reacted decisively to the “racist remarks of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.”
“Today we urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports. It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.”
Along with Warren, the signatories include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Rockefeller, Bernard Sanders, Al Franken, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet and Debbie Stabenow. Only five Democrat senators didn’t sign the letter.
The NFL has stated: “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”
Warren was caught up in controversy over her heritage during her heated campaign against Sen. Scott Brown in 2012.
The Washington Post reported Warren was claiming Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage, “but the only proof so far seems to be stories she says she heard from family members as a child.”
It reported the New England Historic Genealogical Society found a family newsletter that alluded to a marriage license application supposedly listing Warren’s great-great-great grandmother as part Cherokee. But the author said she didn’t have documentation of the marriage license application, and she doesn’t know who sent her the reference.
The Boston Herald reported Warren listed herself as a minority in the American Association of Law Schools directory, and Harvard Law promoted her “supposed lineage” when the organization was facing questions about its diversity.
But when Warren worked at the University of Texas, she indicated she was “white.”
Nevertheless, the Post reported, Penn’s 2005 Minority Equity Report “identified her as the recipient of a 1994 faculty award, listing her name in bold to signify that she was a minority.”
The Post’s “Fact Checker” concluded: “The outstanding questions about Warren’s directory listing – and her relying on family lore rather than official documentation to make an ethnic claim – certainly raise serious concerns about Warren’s judgment.”
WND reported last month that the dispute remains unresolved.
It was then that a genealogist who reported debunking Warren’s claim to Cherokee Indian heritage raised objections because Warren repeated the claim in her new book called “A Fighting Chance.”
The Cherokee genealogist, Twila Barnes, revealed in 2012 during Warren’s campaign that not only was Warren’s great-grandfather not a Cherokee, he was a white man who boasted of shooting one.
Barnes wanted to meet with the senator on the issue, but when Barnes and other Cherokee women flew to Boston to present the genealogical evidence, Warren refused to see them.
“She could have used her new book to acknowledge the truth and apologize for her blatant disrespect of minorities, but instead, she’s continued to perpetuate the lie and attempted to portray herself as a victim,” wrote Barnes on her blog.
She cited an excerpt from Warren’s book: “What really threw me, though, were the constant attacks from the other side. I would almost persuade myself that I was starting to get the hang of full-throttle campaigning and then — bam! Out of left field, the state Republican Party, or the Brown campaign, or some blogger would launch a rocket at me.”
To that, Barnes writes: “Doing the research, finding the facts and sharing the truth about someone is not an attack. If people were launching rockets, it is because Warren gave them a big target. Research was done to determine if she had Cherokee ancestry. She didn’t have any. That is not an opinion. It is a sound conclusion based on a preponderance of evidence found in historical documents. No one had any control over the lies told except Elizabeth Warren. She had control over it when she opened her mouth and told the story. She also had control when she repeatedly defended her story, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. If Elizabeth Warren was a victim, she was only a victim of her own arrogance and dishonesty. If she felt hurt and angry over what happened, she has no one to blame but herself. She could have, should have, just told the truth. She chose not to do that. I don’t feel sorry for her.”
See a June 2012 report on the dispute:
As the controversy was running its course, the Denver Post released responses from Native Americans.
Cherokee spokeswoman Ali Sacks: "It's cowardly to ride the coattails of people who have lost so much for your own benefit and not accomplish what you can accomplish on your own benefits. I think it's shameful and extremely disrespectful."
Former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe: "I think if she used it just to get some kind of advantage – whatever it was – like a job application or something, then that's probably not appropriate. … I don't know if Mrs. Warren did that or not."
Kiowa tribe member Cole DeLaune: "With his smoky black hair, prosperously tawny skin tone, and lineage that paternally extends back to Mexico, Mitt Romney guarantees that 2012 will see the most diverse presidential contest yet. And by November 7, according [to] the esoteric reasoning of Elizabeth Warren and her supporters, we may have our first Hispanic executive-elect."