The Cherokee Chief Wants Scott Brown to Apologize

By ·

A day after Scott Brown supporters and staffers were caught on video taunting Elizabeth Warren supporters with tomahawk chop gestures and war cries, the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation would like a stronger reaction from the candidate. Chief Bill John Baker emailed a statement to reporters that reads, in part:

The use of stereotypical “war whoop chants” and “tomahawk chops” are offensive and downright racist. It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.

And:

We need individuals in the United States Senate who respect Native Americans and have an understanding of tribal issues. For that reason, I call upon Sen. Brown to apologize for the offensive actions of his staff and their uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples.

Warren, of course, probably isn’t going to make the “racism” claim herself. When reporters asked if she was “appalled as an American Indian,” she replied artfully that “I am appalled as an American,” reports the Herald. Brown said after the video started circulating that “it is certainly something that I don’t condone” but it sounds like Baker wants a stronger repudiation.

Baker hasn’t been totally neutral up to now. He’s openly defended Warren over her claims to a Cherokee heritage. (“I wish every congressman and senator in the U.S. had a kinship or felt a kinship to the Cherokee nation.”) And the fact that he is only 1/32 Cherokee himself is a fact widely cited by Warren supporters.

But at any rate, having your staff called racist is generally not a great news day… Here’s the full release:

The Cherokee Nation is disappointed in and denounces the disrespectful actions of staffers and supporters of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.  The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse.  The use of stereotypical “war whoop chants” and “tomahawk chops” are offensive and downright racist.  It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.

The individuals involved in this unfortunate incident are high ranking staffers in both the senate office and the Brown campaign.  A campaign that would allow and condone such offensive and racist behavior must be called to task for their actions.

The Cherokee Nation is a modern, productive society, and I am blessed to be their chief.  I will not be silent when individuals mock and insult our people and our great nation.

We need individuals in the United States Senate who respect Native Americans and have an understanding of tribal issues. For that reason, I call upon Sen. Brown to apologize for the offensive actions of his staff and their uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples.

-Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

Post updated at 11:50 p.m.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2012/09/26/cherokee-chief-scott-brown-apologize/