Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) is in her native Oklahoma this week for the holidays, and the 2020 hopeful took the opportunity to meet with tribal leaders in an effort to repair her strained relationship with Native Americans.
Warren met with members from 39 tribes based in the Sooner State. Behind only California, Oklahoma has the most federally recognized Native American groups in the country – and many operate casinos on their sovereign lands.
The Senator reportedly discussed various topics with the tribes, including the federal Indian Health Service, upholding treaty obligations, Native American education, and combating substance abuse among Indians.
One issue that wasn’t covered, at least according to sources speaking with the Associated Press, was gambling. And over the last several weeks, tribal casinos in Oklahoma have clogged local headlines due to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) demand that the gaming venues share more of their slot and table game revenue with the state.
As for Warren’s 2020 chances, they’re becoming increasingly longer by the week.
On PredictIt, Warren’s shares of securing the Democratic Party’s nomination are at 13 cents – down from 50 cents in September and far behind former VP Joe Biden currently at 36 cents. Bookmaker William Hill has her at 5/1, with Biden leading at 2/1.
Warren has been criticized for her claims of Native American ancestry for many years. In 1986, she identified her race as “American Indian” on a state bar form in Texas, and said publicly that “being Native American has been part of my story, I guess, since the day I was born.”
She’s identified herself as Cherokee, a claim that gained much attention after she ran for US Senate in 2012 and her opponent Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) challenged the claim. Warren nonetheless defeated Brown.
Upon her announcement last year that she would make a 2020 presidential run, President Donald Trump offered to pay $1 million to her favorite charity for her to prove her Native American roots through a DNA test. She took the president up on the offer, but the results only fueled her opponents.
The ancestry profile showed that Warren had Native American DNA from “six to 10 generations ago,” which the AP said would make her between 1/32 to 1/512 Native American. The Cherokee Nation rejected the use of DNA testing as “inappropriate and wrong.”
Warren’s Native American ancestry is a thing of the past, so says some of the tribal members who attended her meeting this week in Oklahoma.
She’s apologized for that, and I don’t speak for tribal leaders, but in my mind that is no longer an issue at all,” said Kalyn Free, a Democratic national committeewoman from Oklahoma. “She didn’t meet with them because of that issue. She met with them because she genuinely cares about tribal leaders and the issues that are important to them.”
Trump carried Oklahoma over Hillary Clinton by 36 points. The Sooner State is steadfast red, voting for the Republican presidential candidate in each election since 1968.