Senator Warren Speaks To Tribal Hardship, Resilience


Mashpee Wampanoag tribal leaders have praised remarks made by US Senator Elizabeth A. Warren (D-Massachusetts).

Sen. Warren gave her address Wednesday, February 14, to the National Congress of American Indians during a policy summit in Washington, DC. She made a direct reference to the Mashpee Wampanoag.

“We welcome Senator Warren’s remarks and value her support and involvement, especially at this critical time as our tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag, works to secure our reservation lands now and for future generations,” tribal council chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement. “We especially appreciate her remarks about how this government owes its native citizens ‘a fighting chance to build stronger communities and a brighter future—starting with a more prosperous economic future on tribal lands.’ We look forward to continuing to work closely with Senator Warren on these efforts.”

As she began her remarks, the senator said, “It has been an honor to work with, to learn from, and to represent the tribes in my home state of Massachusetts, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head—the Aquinnah—and the Mashpee Wampanoag.”

Sen. Warren’s speech circulated around major news outlets, mainly because she revealed more about her family’s Native American heritage, which has caused her some political complications in the past.

But aside from politics, her speech spoke directly to Native Americans across the country.

Here is an excerpt from her written speech:

“I’m here today to make a promise: Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities.

“Your story is about contributions. The contributions you make to a country that took so much and keeps asking for more, contributions like serving in the military at rates higher than any other group in America.

“It is a story about hope. The hope you create as more Native people go to college, go to graduate school and grow local economies.

“It is a story about resilience. The resilience you show as you reclaim your history and your traditions.

“And it is a story about pride and the determination of people who refuse to let their languages fade away and their cultures die.

“I honor that story.

“But there’s another story that also needs to be told. The story of our country’s mistreatment of your communities. And this isn’t just a story about casual racism—war whoops and tomahawk chops and insulting Facebook memes.

“It’s a story about discrimination and neglect—the unmet health care needs of Native children and families, the alarmingly high rate of suicide among Native teenagers, the growing opioid crisis and the broader epidemic of substance abuse that has ravaged so many Native communities.

“Even today, politicians in Washington want to let their big oil buddies pad their profits by encroaching on your land and fouling your rivers and streams,” her speech continued. “Meanwhile, even as the economic future of your communities hangs in the balance, they want to cut nutrition assistance, cut Medicaid, and cut other programs that many Native families rely on to survive.”

The Senator said that she would fight for Native Americans, including to “expand federally protected land that is important to your tribes.”

The Mashpee tribe is in its own fight to retain federally protected land.

By Sam Houghton, The Mashpee Enterprise