The Democratic hopeful was widely mocked after her repeated claims to have Native American ancestry turned out to be greatly overstated. A DNA test suggested that she was in fact between 1/64 and 1/1028 Native American.
Ms Warren made her apology as she appeared at the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa. Named after a Native activist who died last autumn, the two-day forum is the first of its kind, and will host, besides Senator Warren, fellow frontrunners Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, among others.
“Like anyone who’s being honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes,” Senator Warren said. “I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened and I have learned a lot, and I am grateful for the many conversations that we’ve had together.”
The Massachusetts senator received a standing ovation when she took the stage to speak to the crowd, just a few days after unveiling an extensive plan to assist the Native American community. But the speech was expected to be scrutinised, given Ms Warren’s past uneasy relationship with the Native American community.
At the Sioux City forum, Ms Warren was upfront about the poor choice.
“It is a great honour to be able to partner with Indian Country,” she said, “and that’s what I’ve tried to do as a senator, and that’s what I promise I will do as president of the United States of America.”
- Read more
Her speech also addressed her newly revealed plans, which include a promise to bring attention to the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women, which has long gone under-reported outside of Native communities.
“A problem that is not seen is a problem that is not fixed,” Ms. Warren said. “People need to know the scope of this problem.”
She also called for expanding the ability of tribal nations to prosecute non-Native people who commit crimes on their land, which drew cheers from the attending crowd, and further discussed her plan to enact her new proposals.
“Full funding, for housing, for health care, for education, for infrastructure — those are not optional,” she said. “We need to change the rules and make it happen.”