With the announcement, Warren is making a major splash right before the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum. She's one of the participants in the highly anticipated event, taking place on Monday and Tuesday in the early voting state of Iowa. It's the first of the 2020 presidential cycle to focus on Indian issues and the first of its kind in more than a decade. And while she isn't the first with a comprehensive Indian Country statement -- that achievement goes to Julián Castro, a former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who is also taking part in the forum -- Warren goes further than her counterpart in many respects. One of the most notable is her call to recognize the authority of tribes to punish anyone, regardless of race, who commits crime on their lands. Through the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, Congress recognized the "inherent" authority of tribes to arrest, prosecute and sentence non-Indians who abuse their domestic partners. Legislation mired in partisan politics on Capitol Hill would expand on the landmark provisions to cover sexual assault, stalking and trafficking, as well as crimes against children and law enforcement. But Warren wants Congress to go further and fully address the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, a destructive ruling that restricted tribal authority based on a paternalistic views of their governments. In doing so, she is the first presidential candidate of the 2020 cycle to call for jurisdiction over non-Indians in all criminal aspects. "My administration will provide Tribal Nations that choose to exercise this authority with the necessary resources to administer justice fairly -- like providing funding for legal representation for indigent defendants -- and to expand the scope of their enforcement without imposing any additional financial burdens on tribes that have been systematically underfunded," Warren states. And unlike her fellow candidates, Warren benefits from a prominent backer: Deb Haaland, a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna. Along with the platform, the pair on Friday are announcing comprehensive legislation to address Indian Country's unmet needs, many of which were outlined in a recent report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. "We will call it the Honoring Promises to Native Nations Act," Warren said. "This legislation will not address every major policy issue of concern to Tribal Nations and indigenous communities. But it will represent an urgently needed and long-overdue step toward ensuring that the United States finally, and for the first time, fully meets its resource obligations to Indian Country."
Washington is failing Native communities, and it's time to fulfill our obligations to Tribal Nations. Today I’m announcing ideas to ensure that tribal sovereignty and our trust and treaty obligations are binding legal and moral principles—not just slogans. https://t.co/JT3WA6uMwu— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 16, 2019
Other Cherokee citizens -- including prominent genealogists and historians -- have debunked any claims of Cherokee ancestry in Warren's family tree. But while they do so in a scholarly fashion, they aren't the only ones who have brought race and identity into the national debate. Republican President Donald Trump and his supporters frequently use the name of a Native woman as a slur against Warren in an attempt to ridicule her. As the 2020 campaign heats up, he's promising to employ "Pocahontas" even more, despite its offensive connotations. 'We'll have to hit 'Pocahontas' very hard again if she does win," Trump said in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, referring to the competition for the Democratic nomination. "She's staging a little bit of a comeback."
My family (including Fox News-watchers) sat together and talked about what they think of @realDonaldTrump’s attacks on our heritage. And yes, a famous geneticist analyzed my DNA and concluded that it contains Native American ancestry. pic.twitter.com/r3SNzP22f8— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 15, 2018
The Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum is named in honor of the late Frank LaMere, a prominent activist who passed away in June after dedicating his life to advancing Native causes. He also was active in elevating Indian issues within the Democratic party. “The passing of Frank LaMere, my good friend and hero for Indian Country, who fought for justice and a voice at every table, will leave a void that none of us can easily fill," Haaland said after his passing on June 16 at the age of 69. "His activism and kind and generous heart will be missed.” The forum is being held in Sioux City, Iowa, a community with a thriving urban Indian population and one near the homelands and reservations of several tribes. LaMere also called it his home. In addition to Elizabeth Warren, several Democrats are participating in the two-day event at the Orpheum Theatre. They are:
TICKET ALERT: Do you want tickets to the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum? Get them now! https://t.co/1XiClpj3fJ *NOTE* Purchase tickets for each day! August 19th and August 20.— Four Directions Native Vote (@4directionsvote) August 2, 2019
Additionally, independent candidate Mark Charles, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, will be attending the forum. It's being hosted by Four Directions and the Native Organizers Alliance, two advocacy organizations. “This forum isn’t about ‘gotcha’ moments. It’s about ‘get it’ moments. We want candidates to grasp the challenges and aspirations of Indian Country," said said O.J. Semans, a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who co-directs Four Directions. On board as co-hosts are the National Congress of American Indians, the Coalition of Large Tribes, the Global Indigenous Council, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, the Native American Rights Fund, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, and the United South and Eastern Tribes. Together, the organizations represent nearly every tribal nation in the lower 48 states. The Big Fire Law and Policy Group, a newly established legal firm that's 100 percent Native owned and one of the first to be majority owned by Native women, is also a co-sponsor. “Never before has our country had a presidential forum singularly dedicated to issues impacting tribal nations, it is long overdue, and Big Fire Law & Policy Group is happy to work with Four Directions, tribal leaders, and our tribal advocacy groups to be a part of this important change,” said Lance Morgan, an attorney and citizen of the Winnebago Tribe. “If we’re serious about tackling the biggest problems facing Indian Country, we need our voices to be heard, for the candidates to understand the serious issues tribal governments are facing and then have conversations about solutions," said Morgan, who also serves as president and chief executive officer of Ho-Chunk Inc., the Winnebago Tribe's economic arm. “This forum will create an important opportunity for candidates to hear directly from tribal leaders and Native voters.” Ho-Chunk Inc. also owns Indianz.Com but the website operates independently and is not involved in the corporation's activities, or with the legal firm's involvement in the presidential forum. The Coushatta Tribe, based in Louisiana, is serving as the "Lead Premier" sponsor for the event while the NDN Collective has joined as "Lead Underwriting" sponsor. Tom Rodgers, a citizen of the Blackfeet Nation and founder of the Carlyle Consulting firm, has joined as "Lead Stage" sponsor. Mark Trahant, a citizen of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes who serves as the editor of Indian Country Today, is scheduled to moderate the forum. Tickets can be purchased online for a nominal fee.
The Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum continues to grow as more candidates reach out to Native voters. Seven 2020 Democratic hopefuls, plus one Native independent, are going to be at the event in #Iowa. #NativeVote #NativeVote2020 https://t.co/KlFApBTCYt— indianz.com (@indianz) August 6, 2019
Aaron Payment: Candidates must understand and respect tribal sovereignty (July 31, 2019)
Tribal leaders grill 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on Indian issues (July 30, 2019)
Candidates make first major play for Native vote in 2020 presidential race (July 25, 2019)