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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cherokee Chief Demands Scott Brown Apologize for Supporters\' Actions


BOSTON - The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation has asked Senator Scott P. Brown to apologize for what he called the “downright racist” gestures of Brown supporters at a campaign event Saturday in Dorchester, Mass.

A video released Tuesday showed some members of Mr. Brown's Senate and campaign staffs among a group of Brown supporters making tomahawk chops and chanting Indian war whoops in a shout-down with supporters of Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic challenger, outside the Eire Pub. Mr. Brown was inside, greeting voters.

“The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse,” the chief, Bill John Baker, said in a statement. “ 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.”

The video was taken by a tracker for the Massachusetts Democratic Party. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that a state Republican Party spokesman confirmed that one of those making the gestures and leading the whoops was one of its field coordinators, Brad Garnett. State Democratic officials identified another person making the gestures as Jack Richard, a lawyer who works on constituent services in Mr. Brown's Senate office.

Mr. Brown said Tuesday that he did not condone such behavior but added that Ms. Warren was the one who needed to apologize for claiming to be, as he phrased it at last week's debate, “a person of color” which, he said, “clearly she is not.” As he put it on Tuesday when he s aid he would not apologize: “The apologies that need to be made and the offensiveness here is the fact that Professor Warren took advantage of a claim, to be somebody â€" a Native American - and using that for an advantage, a tactical advantage.”

Ms. Warren has said that she based her claims of Native American ancestry on family lore, that none of her employers were aware of her background when she was hired and that she in no way benefited from it. It is not clear how much the issue has hurt her candidacy over the last several months, but it has risen to such a fever pitch now that she is airing a television ad defending her assertions of her ancestry.

Mr. Brown is also airing a television ad on the matter and began his first debate by saying that Ms. Warren's claims regarding her ancestry showed she was of questionable character.

Ms. Warren described the video released Tuesday as “appalling” and said that had members of her staff been involved in such a display, they would have faced “serious consequences.” Mr. Brown said that if his staffers had been involved, he would ask them not to do it again.

The Brown campaign did not respond on Wednesday for comment on Mr. Baker's statement.

Mr. Baker has supported Democratic causes in the past and was not part of a move earlier this year by some members of the Cherokee Nation who started a Web site demanding “the truth” from Ms. Warren about her background.