WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Friday laid out a collection of policy proposals intended to help Native Americans, pledging to protect tribal lands and to bolster funding for programs that serve Native people.
In releasing the proposals, Ms. Warren is drawing attention to Native American issues after months of largely refraining from doing so in the wake of a controversy over her ancestry. Ms. Warren put out the plans ahead of a scheduled appearance on Monday at a presidential forum in Sioux City, Iowa, that is dedicated to Native American issues.
Among the proposals, Ms. Warren said that if elected president, she would revoke the permits for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, two projects that have been opposed by many Native Americans. No energy project significantly affecting tribal lands should go ahead, she said, “without the free, prior and informed consent of the Tribal Nation concerned.”
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She also called for expanding the ability of tribes to prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed on tribal land, and she proposed creating a nationwide alert system for missing indigenous women.
“As a nation, we are failing in our legal, political and moral obligations toward tribal governments and indigenous peoples,” Ms. Warren wrote in a lengthy Medium post. “That this failure is simply the latest chapter in generations of prior failures is no excuse.”
Ms. Warren has been dogged by questions over her claims of Native American ancestry since she first ran for the Senate in 2012. President Trump has relentlessly mocked her by calling her “Pocahontas,” and the controversy over her ancestry marred the beginning of her presidential campaign.
Last October, before she entered the presidential race, she released the results of a DNA test providing evidence that she had a Native American ancestor. But the move drew criticism from some Native Americans; the secretary of state of the Cherokee Nation said Ms. Warren was “undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.” Ms. Warren has since apologized for having identified herself as Native American.
In recent months, Ms. Warren has mostly avoided bringing up Native American issues, despite having pledged to be a vocal ally. “I still, I am working on being a good partner,” Ms. Warren said in an interview with The New York Times last week. “And the best way to be a good partner is to walk the walk.”
Since entering the presidential race, Ms. Warren has rolled out broad policy plans on housing, the opioid crisis and rural America that include funding earmarked for Native American communities. In the Senate, she has introduced bills addressing suicide prevention and child abuse in Native communities.
The newly released collection of policy plans draws on a wide-ranging legislative proposal that Ms. Warren unveiled on Friday with Representative Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico and one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.
The proposal with Ms. Haaland, who endorsed Ms. Warren’s presidential bid last month, is in response to a report released in December by the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The report found that “federal programs designed to support the social and economic well-being of Native Americans remain chronically underfunded.”
The proposal from Ms. Warren and Ms. Haaland addresses areas like criminal justice, health care and education.
As a presidential candidate, Ms. Warren has become known for her detailed policy plans on a wide variety of subjects. Her collection of proposals on Native American issues is among the most significant policy platforms released by a 2020 candidate with indigenous communities in mind.
Julián Castro, the former housing secretary and San Antonio mayor, unveiled a plan last month that focuses on indigenous communities, with sections on issues like tribal sovereignty, treaty commitments and voting rights. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont also has a list of priorities to support Native people.