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Oct 17, 2018

Comparing Elizabeth Warren to Actual American Indians

Elizabeth Warren's claim of affirmative action status based on being an American Indian was completely bogus. Almost any tribal affiliation requires 1/8. Warren has 1/64 tops, and more likely 1/1024.  That likely means Warren in 99.9% white. The affirmative action status is supposed to compensate for past discrimination. I doubt Elizabeth Warren experienced any.

From 1957 to 1963 I spent my summers on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana. My family owned a ranch there. In about 1960, I knew we had become unpopular with other ranchers, but I didn't understand why. I was about 9, so I asked my Uncle Knute why. He told me we were paying an Indian haying crew 5 cents a bail to pick up our hay. This was the going rate for white workers. Uncle Knute told me Indians got only 3 cents a bail. I told Uncle Knute that the work was the same, so the pay should be the same. Uncle Knute said that's what we thought, but not everyone agreed.

I mention this to show you that Indians faced a lot of actual racial discrimination. I very much doubt that Elizabeth Warren faced anything like what I saw in Montana. She took personal advantage of a preference designed for people who had faced actual discrimination by lying about her background. Given how much discrimination the Flathead Indians faced when I lived there, I find Elizabeth Warren's claim insulting and selfish.

When I lived there, the Flathead Indians had almost nothing.  Fish and game laws didn’t apply to them, so sometimes they shot fish to get enough to eat.  Even if you miss with a .22, the shock wave knocks the fish unconscious, so you can net the fish. The houses they lived in barely kept the winter out.  The tribal organization wasn’t a noticeable presence.

The Flathead Indians, aka Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, are now the most successful American Indian tribal organization in the US. (The Alaskan Native organizations are richer, because they sold access for the Alaska Pipeline, but as an employer and as a social service organization, I think the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are overall more successful for their members.) They achieved this by pursuing education with a passion, so they could learn how to make the best of what they have. They own and operate their own 4-year college. Their tribal annual report looks like they are a conglomerate, not a tribe. They have a large timber operation, a beautiful hotel on Flathead Lake that I stayed at with my family once, an electronics factory and a recently purchased hydroelectric dam. They added casinos as an afterthought.  The timber operation was how they got their start.

My respect for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' accomplishments is why I find Elizabeth Warren's affirmative action claim so despicable. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes overcame poverty and prejudice by study and hard work to become extremely successful. Elizabeth Warren lied about her background to use an affirmative action shortcut she didn't really qualify for to achieve her success.

Just to be clear, Proudfoot is a Scottish name.  That part of my family came from Dumfriesshire, Scotland.  I am not claiming any American Indian ancestry.  Proudfoot is also my pen name, so if you don’t remember my family on the Flathead reservation, it’s because they weren’t called Proudfoot.

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