‘I can’t go back. But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted…’
(Liberty Headlines) Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is seeking to make amends with Native Americans whose culture she appropriated—depriving them of advancement opportunities—for decades until a widely lambasted DNA test last year debunked her claims.
Warren and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced Wednesday that they plan to sponsor a companion bill to a U.S. House measure to revoke Medals of Honor for soldiers who participated in the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
“The horrifying acts of violence against hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee should be condemned, not celebrated with Medals of Honor,” Warren said in a press release.
“The Remove the Stain Act acknowledges a profoundly shameful event in U.S. history, and that’s why I’m joining my House colleagues in this effort to advance justice and take a step toward righting wrongs against Native peoples.”
Medals of Honor were given to 20 soldiers for participating in the massacre that killed an estimated 250 Native Americans, many of whom were women and children.
The bill was first introduced in the House by Reps. Denny Heck, D-Wash.; Deb Haaland, D-NM; and Paul Cook, R-Calif. The House bill currently has 15 co-sponsors, although Cook was the only Republican, at press time, to signal support.
Invoking his own military background as a 26-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Cook said he felt the conduct of the soldiers during the historical skirmish was unbecoming of the standards of U.S. armed forces and should not be recognized with the military’s highest honor.
“It bothers me as a professional military person and as a historian and as a humanitarian,” Cook said in a June press release, “not just the massacre and slaughter and all the horrible things that happened—but the continuation of a lie that is associated with the highest award we have for valor.”
Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota has said he does not support the effort to prosecute the past. He denounced it as an exercise in historical revisionism because “we’re now guessing” about the roles of individual soldiers.
Following her controversial DNA test and the ensuing scandal surrounding her unethical claims of minority status, Warren was excoriated by the Cherokee Nation, whose heritage she had claimed as her own.
She latter issued a series of apologies.
“Like anyone who’s been honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes,” she told the Native American Presidential Forum in August. “I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened and I have learned a lot, and I am grateful for the many conversations that we’ve had together.”
But, true to liberal form, she implored critics to move on rather than hold her accountable—politically or otherwise—for the falsehood.
“I am sorry for not being more mindful about this decades ago,” Warren told The Washington Post in February. “I can’t go back. But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”
She also pinned blame on her parents for telling her—despite evidence to the contrary—that she had enough Cherokee heritage to warrant identifying herself as an American Indian with the Texas Bar Association and other professional registries.
“I grew up in Oklahoma, I learned about my family the same way most people learn about their families—from my mom, my dad, my aunt, my uncle,” Warren said in a June radio interview. “And it’s what I believed. But I’m not a person of color. I’m not a citizen of a tribe. And I shouldn’t have done it.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press