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Cherokees hammer Elizabeth Warren on ancestry claim ahead of Mass. party convention

Indian reporters and activists want answers from Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has given muddled replies about whether she used unsupported claims of Cherokee ancestry to further her academic career at Harvard.

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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren takes questions from members of the media as Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick looks on during an event at Warren's campaign headquarters, in Somerville, Mass., Wednesday, May 30.

Steven Senne/AP

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As Massachusetts Democrats meet at their nominating convention today, some members of the Cherokee Nation are stepping up a campaign to get answers about candidate Elizabeth Warren’s claims of tribal ancestry – a sideshow controversy that has nevertheless begun to wobble one of the most closely-watched Senate campaigns in the country.

This week, Indian reporters say they were snubbed by Warren’s campaign as they sought clarification on why Ms. Warren was listed as a minority Native faculty by Harvard in the 1990s, even though she has no evidence to back that claim and apparently never sought out other Native Americans on campus.

Jim Barnett, a spokesman for the incumbent Republican, Scott Brown, did talk to Indian Country magazine, noting that “any time a person tries to attach themselves to a group of people without rationale for doing so, except for maybe personal gain, it seems very seedy to me.”

A group of Cherokees has set up a website disputing Warren’s claims, and some tribal members said they may protest the Democratic nominating convention in Springfield, Mass., today.

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