The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation issued a strongly worded statement Wednesday denouncing the actions of Sen. Scott Brown staffers and supporters at a campaign rally earlier this week. In a video posted on YouTube, members of Brown’s staff are seen chanting so-called Indian “war whoops” and making “tomahawk chops,” presumably in reference to their opponent Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Cherokee heritage.
“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,” Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation said in a statement.
But Brown isn’t apologizing. He said his staffer’s actions were unfortunate, but quickly pivoted and pointed fingers at Warren.
“It is certainly something that I don’t condone,” said Brown when asked about the video Tuesday by WCVB. “The real offense is that (Warren) said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American, and then she changed her profile in the law directory once she made her tenure.”
Chief Baker says he expects more from Brown.
“The individuals involved in this unfortunate incident are high ranking staffers in both the senate office and the Brown campaign,” Chief Baker said. “A campaign that would allow and condone such offensive and racist behavior must be called to task for their actions.” Chief Baker asked Sen. Brown to apologize for his staff’s actions.
The Native American Journalists Association also issued a statement that said: “NAJA is disappointed that coverage of U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s claimed Native heritage has resulted in a series of disrespectful headlines and puns that show disregard for Native Americans and our history.”