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Wendi Muse @MuseWendi
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historians who work on indigenous history have come together to respond to & contextualize the elizabeth warren DNA controversy. i'll be live-tweeting their panel later today. be on the lookout! #aha19 #elizabethwarren
here is additional info:…
here is the lineup:
Deborah Miranda,Washington & Lee Univ
Jean M. O'Brien-Kehoe,Univ of MN Twin Cities
Julie L. Reed,Penn State Univ
Doug Kiel,Northwestern Univ
Malinda Maynor Lowery,Center for the Study of the American South,UNC Chapel Hill
Alyssa Mt.Pleasant, Univ at Buffalo
the chair, deborah miranda, opens with a land acknowledgement and recognition of local chicago area indigenous groups and their activism. she also includes a poem. she mentions the significance of land acknowledgment that we must maintain in its practice
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren
P.S. the full title of the talk: "Rapid Response History: Native American Identities, Racial Slurs, and Elizabeth Warren"
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
work by one of the presenters, Julie Reed:…
(btw, giving a shoutout to another attendee live tweeting this event in case i miss anything: @cjdenial
the first presenter will be speaking about gendered violence of settler colonialism and the impact of indigenous women of the use of "Pocahontas" as a slur
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
(btw, her name is Alyssa Mt. Pleasant)
she continues by discussing the news re: warren's supposed indigenous ancestry in the 2012 race against scott brown+
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
trump built upon the language of rush limbaugh and other right wing shock jocks and pundits, but warren, throughout 2016, did not fully acknowledge what was happening, yet insisted upon her indigenous origins+
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
warren attended a conference regarding indigenous ppls in the US that opened w/a speech on the misrepresentation of the story of pocahontas. it seemed that warren understood the significance of what was discussed in the speech,but also the violence inflicted upon indigenous women
"native women are expected to disappear," the speaker notes in a discussion of the violence committed against indigenous women by settler colonialism and its representation on screen and in popular representation of native women
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
professor mt. pleasant emphasizes the need for us to recognize this problem going beyond the fictive borders that exist between Canada and the US (and further globally)
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
she notes that so many indigenous ppl "self-censor" bc there are, as one of warren's spokespeople once callously noted, "more important issues"
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
the next speaker is Doug Kiel (whom you can find here: @Doug_Kiel)
alyssa you can find here: @BettyRbl
Prof Kiel will be speaking about the DNA testing and the problems of using it as the end all be all in determining indigineity. he notes the bizarre reality that while USians know so little about indigenous realities+
he also notes that elected officials appear less concerned by warren's language, noting that they think it may be a sign that warren can serve as an ally of indigenous groups. but, as kiel notes, warren violates the ways indigenous ppl define themselves & belonging+
he notes the arrogance of warren in using DNA "evidence" to "prove" her indigenous ancestry as pushback against the cherokee nation, who has (rightfully) expressed frustration w/ her misunderstanding of native nationhood
"warren is not an ally at all" as she uses scientific "proof" above the assertions of the cherokee, who have identified the ways they define their community and related kinship. warren simply reinforces misunderstandings of how indigenous community works
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren
prof kiel connects this process back to the use of blood quantum and blood purity methods during the inquisition and its carryover of these methods into the americas via colonialism+
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
these standards were later implied in the US and worked to reinforce racist pseudoscience and eugenics
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
he relates the story of an indigenous woman (dr. hill), who became "adopted" by the oneida nation for her medical volunteer work w/in an oneida community, who even was married to an oneida man, but she did not meet the "blood quantum" criteria, noting its complexity & flaws+
the other aspect of this is the need for indigenous people to display a form of "authenticity" in order to be believed by the larger US society.
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
we cannot reduce indigeneity to the existence of "shared bodily matter," which blood quantum policy relies on, as we see re: supreme court trials involving native adoptees and black cherokee expulsion
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
the next speaker is Malinda Maynor Lowery (whom you can find here: @malindalowery) who discusses the complexities of race, identity, and ancestry as it relates to indigenous communities & the way determining said belonging in popular culture renders indigenous ppl invisible+
she discusses the use of pseudoscience (anthropometry) employed by the OAA and harvard researchers, "which ranked races along an evolutionary scale that situated white americans at the top and african peoples at the bottom." it also relied on the measure of heads,lips,hair etc+
these researchers helped solidify racist stereotypes as science, which was used repeatedly not only to commit extensive land theft, but also to commit genocide in the US and abroad (as it was this "science" that was taken up by the nazis)
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren+
she also discusses the categories created and literally tested by an anthropometry researcher named carl selzer (sp?) who touched, scratched, etc a group of indigenous men to "test" their race (the results of which were later used to steal their land)
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren
warren has lately "downplayed" her claims of cherokee heritage and had instead presented herself more as an ally to native causes, but at the professor notes, this doesn't take away the damage she caused in her claims, the method to make those claims, and her doubling down
cherokee identity has been so widely appropriated" by other groups, the nation has used more scrutiny in its determination of community members
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
next up is professor Jean M. O'Brien-Kehoe. she notes that the controversy surrounding warren has taken attention away from other work on indigenous peoples and forces a discussion of "culture" rather than "nationhood"+
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
it's sucked the air out of the room in terms of what native scholars discuss and when they are consulted in the first place
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
the warren controversy demonstrates how little the general public understand native identity and sovereignty
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
she discusses warren's "family story" video as part of her campaign, which discusses the trump/pocahantas controversy.
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
most of the claims re: warren involve language like "ancestry" as opposed to "sovereignty" or "nationhood"
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
warren's understanding of indigineity is based on these same ideas and one of "identity" instead of the ways indigenous groups define themselves and tribal citizenship.
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
warren more focused on an identity that "brings her solace" than what it means for indigenous ppl and their rights
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
the professor notes n a newer video, warren does not address (or even display) indigenous ppl, nor does she include indigenous sovereignty issues in her platform
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
and she does not appear to know much about this issue, nor does she take a hard stance/appear eager to fight for related rights for indigeous ppl
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
the prof notes that when asked on cnn if she might have done things differently re: her ancestry claims, warren says she's "put it all out there for everyone to see"
but this empty response further harms indigenous ppl
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
bc she continues to demonstrate her ignorance (and lack of willingness to learn) more about indigenous sovereignty and why her initial response furthered settler colonial style claims to indigenousness
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
warren "seeks to benefit" from her claims while she ignores the needs of indigenous communities
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory+
next up is professor reed, who is going back to warren's 2012 campaign in which she discusses her parents having to elope bc of her mother's cherokee heritage.
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
the professor notes that in her own life, and in her family, she was able to find a document related to her indigenous heritage (in addition to knowing her father was cherokee), but that warren noted she has no such documents
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory+
reed went on to discover that in her own family, her father's mother had been disowned when she married her cherokee grandfather, and that the children had been forced to hide and deny their cherokee heritage+
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
she thought that warren would change her story eventually, but she did not.
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
the professor goes on to discuss the challenges cherokee ppl in particular face regarding the situation of prevalent, mythological claims to cherokee heritage in the US
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
some ppl "want to make an individual claim and speak as native americans," but not deal with the discomfort when confronted by indigenous ppl who dispute or contradict those claims
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
but she notes that even among cherokee communities, several historical factors, incl law, blood quantum, have meant changes over time re: who is/not considered part of the nation
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
she relays a set of laws that have limited cherokee citizenship to matrilineal links, and then later to only the children born of white ppl and cherokee; excluding those born of black and cherokee pairings and excluding the descendants of slaves held by cherokee
a series of other land related laws further problematized these claims to cherokee heritage, leading to a series of false claims to have access to land
some white ppl bribed their way onto cherokee registration rolls (again for claims to lands)
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
btw, the rolls she is referring to can be read and searched here:…
warren glosses over questions raised by cherokee ppl, but minimizes cherokee adaptation to pressure by settlers and officials to "destroy [their] communities"
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
she closes by mentioning the degree to which the onslaught of fake claims hurt the cherokee community. she also encourages ppl to check out Thoughts from Polly's Granddaughter by cherokee geneaologist Twila Barnes here:

#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren
can non-scientific ways of determining indigenous belonging also be exclusionary, esp for ppl who have been removed/separated from indigenous communities by way of colonial violence? could genealogy thus serve to include as opposed to exclude?
reed notes there have been some efforts by cherokee (i.e. david cornsilk) to reach out to family members who are in the records, but not tribal members, but this varies by nation.
prof obrien notes that in the US,every indigenous nation has an enrollment office to handle these issues. prof lowery adds a similar instance & notes that indig.communities often hv ways of coping w/ bringing in people who'd been excluded,but there shld be territorial connections
prof kiel notes that genealogy is not always biological, & that indigenous communities often utilize other forms of defining nationhood that can & shld be embraced to bring in those excluded. prof mt pleasant points out the ways wmn in particular hv been excluded from geneaology
prof miranda notes that scientific genealogy can be particularly harmful for nations that are not federally recognized and that other genealogical methods have often been used as official methods can often erase existing indigenous groups+
another question: what are ways that allies can show support?
prof lowery notes that listening and dialogue are key, but that we have to be willing to understand other points of view that seem to run counter to what we expect/what has been deemed acceptable+
prof kiel adds that settle colonialism has further complicated our ability to have real conversations about native isues bc it sets the framework and language with which we work
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
prof obrien adds that it's important for us to remember that indigenous ppl form political units,'s not just a question of identity, which has often been how indigeneity and tribal connections have been framed+
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
prof miranda adds to the idea that "it's not who you claim, but who claims you" to say it's important what ppl do when they are claimed and what they do with that connection
prof mt pleasant notes that in the US, indiv. rights dominate so many convos, but we must emphasize responsibilities and reciprocal relationships
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponseHistory
a professor notes that he repeatedly gets students who make claims to cherokee ancestry, and he's curious if it's more about wanting to feel "more american" or if it's about a "perceived benefit" of some sort
to which prof kiel responds, "both"
#AHA2019 #ElizabethWarren
Prof Reed adds that there is a need to discuss the ways claims to cherokee heritage are wrapped up in white supremacy that don't expect ppl to be held accountable for the claims they have made
here is the unrolled version of the entire thread for the panel "Rapid Response History: Native American Identities, Racial Slurs, and Elizabeth Warren"

#AHA2019 #AHA19 #ElizabethWarren #RapidResponse…
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