Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, fending off questions about whether she used her Native American heritage to advance her career, said today she enrolled herself as a minority in law school directories for nearly a decade because she hoped to meet other people with tribal roots.
Living in what still is in many ways the land of Cherokees, to me her background and claim to Native American heritage isn’t that extraordinary. It’s pretty much standard procedure for someone to claim Native American heritage no matter how few of the ancestors were Native Americans. It’s certainly legitimate to claim it and obtain minority status for purposes of government benefits; I encourage people at my church who have Native American background of any kind (and in an East Tennessee Pentecostal church, that’s a large part of the congregation) to obtain any benefits the government might bestow upon them. It’s only right, isn’t it?
But Warren and her opponents have overlooked a crucial piece in the puzzle: if she has Cherokee background, there’s a good chance that she also has Scots-Irish background as well, since the two groups intermarried extensively in both Tennessee (where the Cherokees started) and Oklahoma (where they were forced to move.) And that brings up the spectre of something that doesn’t sell well in the home of same sex civil marriage: that, underneath all of the education and success, that she just might be a redneck.
We should check this out. Does she have a trailer pulled up on a remote lot in Western Massachusetts? Does she have a secret stash of grits? Is one of the cars in her garage on blocks? The people of Massachusetts have a right to know.
It’s probably good, all things considered, that she’s running for the Senate in the Bay State rather than “back home” where her ancestors came from. Her Scots-Irish relatives do many strange things, but there’s one thing that they’re not doing, and that’s voting Democrat.