During her run for Senate in 2012, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) became a controversial and polarizing figure over her claim that she is a minority because of her Native American heritage.
Warren, however, was unable to prove her heritage. Many critics claimed that she listed herself as a minority on employment applications to bolster herself, but evidence also showed that Warren didn't benefit from her claim of being a minority, either.
Four years into her Senate term, the controversy surrounding Warren's heritage has ramped up mostly because of President Donald Trump's insistence of referring to Warren, a very progressive Democrat who is extremely outspoken against Trump, as "Pocahontas."
Speaking at a National Rifle Association convention on Friday, Trump told a rousing crowd that "it may be Pocahontas" who he has to run against in the 2020 presidential election.
It wasn't the first time Trump referred to Warren by the name, but outrage from Democrats ensued Friday afternoon.
"Trump calling Warren Pocahontas is racist. We kind of gloss over it at this point. But this is the president being racist," wrote Sam Stein, senior editor of politics at HuffPost, on Twitter.
Trump calling Warren Pocahontas is racist. We kind of gloss over it at this point. But this is the president being racist.— Sam Stein (@Sam Stein)1493403379.0
The sentiment of the tweet, which received tens of thousands of likes and retweets, was agreed upon by a lot of Twitter users.
"A sitting president of the US making blatantly racist comments...again. He's a f'ing disgrace to our great nation. A truly sick f**k," wrote one user.
But others weren't buying the racist claim, given the questionability of Warren's heritage.
"How can it be racist if she's not Native American?" said one user.
"Disagree completely. Warren is embellishing (or lying, your pick) Trump is calling her on her BS #PoliticalCorrectnessSucks," wrote another.
CNN host Jake Tapper chimed into the conversation on Twitter later in the day to offer a quote from a Native American friend of his. According to Tapper, his friend believes Trump's comment — "Pocahontas" — is a racial slur, but it doesn't apply to Warren because she isn't Native American, citing a review the Cherokee Nation did on Warren's heritage.
Native American friend of mine on Trump calling her "Pocahontas": "It is a slur for sure and broadly stereotyping Indigenous people."— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 28, 2017
Also, he says, "a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, I know they did a formal review and she is not a Cherokee citizen." 2/2— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 28, 2017
Indeed, according to an extensive analysis from The Atlantic in 2012, Warren, even if her claims are true, doesn't have enough Native American heritage to claim minority status or to be a member of any of the three federally recognized Cherokee communities.
From the Atlantic:
Elizabeth Warren is not a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
Elizabeth Warren is not enrolled in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
And Elizabeth Warren is not one of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee.
Nor could she become one, even if she wanted to.
Despite a nearly three week flap over her claim of "being Native American," the progressive consumer advocate has been unable to point to evidence of Native heritage except for a unsubstantiated thirdhand report that she might be 1/32 Cherokee. Even if it could be proven, it wouldn't qualify her to be a member of a tribe: Contrary to assertions in outlets from The New York Times to Mother Jones that having 1/32 Cherokee ancestry is "sufficient for tribal citizenship," "Indian enough" for "the Cherokee Nation," and "not a deal-breaker," Warren would not be eligible to become a member of any of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes based on the evidence so far surfaced by independent genealogists about her ancestry.