2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., expanded on an already-radical proposal on Friday, telling reporters that Native Americans should be “part of the conversation” on reparations for African-Americans — a move that threatens to bring back her own history with Native Americans.
Taking questions from reporters ahead of a Democratic Party fundraiser in Manchester, N.H., Warren, she said that America has an “ugly history of racism” and outlined her ways to tackle it — including the possibility of reparations.
“We need to confront it head-on and we need to talk about the right away to address it and make change,” she said.
Warren had said in a statement to The New York Times this week that “we must confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country that has had many consequences, including undermining the ability of black families to build wealth in America for generations.”
“We need systemic, structural changes to address that,” she said.
On Friday, asked whether she would include Native Americans in her support for reparations, Warren answered: “I think it’s a part of the conversation. It’s an important part of the conversation.”
Her fellow 2020 hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro have come out in favor of reparations for African Americans but have so far not gone as far as Warren in opening the door to reparations for Native Americans.
“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities,” Harris said in the statement to the Times. “I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.”
Since reparations are in response to African-Americans impacted by slavery, presumably reparations for Native Americans would be to make amends for crimes and abuses committed on the Native population by the U.S. government over America’s history.
It is far from clear how much such a policy would cost, and whether it would command support from the public at large. The Times estimated that a reparations policy could cost several trillion dollars. The policy is so radical that President Barack Obama, and 2016 Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders declined to endorse it.
Warren’s apparent willingness to entertain an even broader tent when it comes to reparations not only marks the Democratic 2020 field’s race to the left, and will likely raise a question over what other groups, if any, could be included in monetary compensation for America’s past sins.
It is also a sign of a risky move for Warren in particularly as it threatens to again bring up her own history of controversy when it comes to Native Americans, for which she has herself tried to make reparations.
“It’s no surprise Elizabeth Warren would attempt to pander to the Native American community after getting caught falsely claiming Native American status in order to advance her career,” Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest told Fox News on Saturday.
Warren claimed for years to have Native American ancestry, and this year apologized to the Cherokee Nation for taking a DNA test that she said initially proved she had Native American heritage.
This month it emerged she had listed her race as “American Indian” in a Texas State Bar registration form in the 1980s. The years-long controversy over her heritage has dogged her 2020 bid and led to her being nicknamed “Pocahontas” in right-wing circles — including from President Trump.
Last month Trump mocked her Instagram livestream by suggesting she should have streamed it from “Bighorn or Wounded Knee.”
“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” he tweeted.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Louis Casiano contributed to this report.