An unrecognized "mixed-blood" tribe in Oregon has invited Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to join its ranks so she can proudly call herself the member of a tribe.
Founded after they were rejected in 2000 by existing Native American tribes for not meeting bloodline requirements, the "Una Nation" doesn't have a high bar for membership. Twenty-nine-year-old Richard B. Lake III, who is the "King" of the tribe, told KVAL earlier this month a member only needs one ancestor who was Native American or an indigenous person.
Warren would meet that requirement. After years of criticism from Republicans and "Pocahontas" taunts from Donald Trump over unsubstantiated claims of past Native American ancestry, she released a widely panned DNA test in October showing she was between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.
"If she's Native American, or of Native American descent, that means she's a mixed-blood, and we stand by her and her statement that she is part-Native American," he said.
Lake showed the news station a "Certificate of Tribal Enrollment" signed by "[His Majesty] King Richard II Ziwahatan." It reads:
I, Richard the Second, the First of Ziwahatan, By the Grace of En (Great Spirit) and the Will of Ka (Mother Earth), Sovereign, Protector, and King of the Una Nation, which is the only specifically Indigenous American Mixed-Blood internationally and domestically recognized, fourth largest tribal nation in the United States, striving to spread hope and love to all Indigenous American Mixed-Bloods who have no place to call home or are shunned away for being less than someone with a higher Indigenous blood-quantum (1/4, 1/8 etc) state that they have one; the Una Nation.
In keeping with our mission to bring Mixed-Bloods together as the Una Nation, to have something of our own and somewhere to preserve our cultural heritages and share our histories with each other; something that has been done for thousands of years, we grant enrollment within the Una Nation, as an Indigenous American Mixed-Blood, to Elizabeth Ann Warren, Senator from Massachusetts.
This enrollment is not only for Senator Warren, because since our laws dictate that enrollment is passed down from an enrolled member. This means that her children (Amelia and Alexander) grandchildren, great-grandchild, etc, will have a tribal family with open arms. Spousal Enrollment is hereby granted to Senator Warren's husband, Bruce Hartling Mann.
Henceforth, this document shall be law within the Una Nation.
H.M. King Richard II Ziwahatan.
"We're granting her, as a gift, enrollment in the Una Nation … When she's asked next if she's a member of the tribe, hopefully she'll be able to say proudly she's a member of the Una Nation, who accept me for who I am," Lake said.
He said the tribe wasn't looking for benefits, just acknowledgement of its existence. The report stated that inviting Warren was a way to do just that, giving the enrollment the appearance of a publicity stunt. While the Una Nation claims recognition by the mayors of Springfield and Eugene, Oregon, it has gotten no such status from the state or federal governments.
Lake describes himself as an "entrepreneur and businessman" on his LinkedIn page, and he claims there are 35,000 enrolled members in the "tribe." He has past acting credits under the name "Brenndt James."
Warren's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.
She has apologized for releasing the DNA test and for making past claims of Native American ancestry, such as identifying her race as "American Indian" on a 1986 Texas state bar registration card.
"All I know is, during this time period, this is consistent with what I did because it was based on my understanding from my family's stories, but family stories are not the same as tribal citizenship," Warren told reporters. "This is why I have apologized."