The Massachusetts senator surprised the audience at the National Congress of American Indians in Boston, where she delivered a rather powerful speech addressing the controversy and slammed President Donald Trump for repeatedly using the "Pocahontas" slur to insult her.
Warren ended her speech with a promise to amplify the stories of Native Americans whenever someone tries to discredit her or her family's story, and it looks like her words were received well.
The Republican National Committee noticed Warren's speech, calling her "Fauxcahontas" in a message to reporters and citing reports questioning the validity of her claims about her heritage.
Warren said she understands why Trump and other political opponents "think there's hay to be made here".
"You won't find my family members on any rolls, and I'm not enrolled in a tribe", she admitted Wednesday.
She went on to pledge her commitment to a variety of policies aimed at benefiting Native American communities, such as preventing violence against Native women and blocking the Trump administration's efforts to take federally protected lands.
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"The story they lived will always be a part of me". In fact, one of her ancestors was Jonathan Crawford, a member of the Tennessee militia who rounded up Cherokees during the infamous Andrew Jackson-ordered Trail of Tears.
Trump's Pochantas attack gave Warren the opening to talk about her own family and upbringing.
Warren nevertheless shifted the conversation from her personal grievances to larger, systemic injustices against Native Americans-most of which predate Trump's tenure as president by a few centuries.
Warren, 68, is running for re-election to the Senate and is widely considered a possible 2020 presidential contender.
Defending herself, she said: "I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead". "People have a right to know, and if Elizabeth Warren wants to be President of the United States, the call for full transparency will only grow louder". "Warren has maintained since 2012 that this is an issue of family lore".
"We have a president who can't make it through a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes without reducing Native history, Native culture, Native people to the butt of a joke", Warren said Wednesday.
If Warren believed she deserved Native American status when she started checking the minority box in 1986, "why did she stop claiming minority status once she made it to the Ivy League in the 1990s?"
"For far too long, your story has been pushed aside, to be trotted out only in cartoons and commercials", she said. "But the kind of violence President Jackson and his allies perpetrated isn't just an ugly chapter in a history book".