U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who formally announced her intention to run for president Saturday, made a surprise appearance at a national event in Washington, D.C., Tuesday where Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais was honored.
Warren, who has apologized to tribes for controversies surrounding her claims of Native American heritage, introduced Andrews-Maltais, according to a report on CNN’s website. Andrews-Maltais was honored by National Indian Women’s “Supporting Each Other” luncheon, according to an invitation sent to The Times last month. Andrews-Maltais was named the organization’s “Woman of the Year” for 2019. The group has been honoring Native women leaders over the past 24 years for their leadership at the local, regional, and national level, the invitation stated.
“Whether it’s building coalitions among allies or reaching across the aisle to bridge divides, Cheryl is masterful at persuading public policy makers to do what’s right for Native communities. I’ve been grateful for her counsel as we’ve worked together to tackle issues of importance to Indian country,” Warren said in her introduction of Andrews-Maltais, according to CNN. “Congress needs that kind of counsel now more than ever. We need action.”
Andrews-Maltais was a senior advisor to the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs at the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Obama administration, after she lost her tribal chairmanship to Tobias Vanderhoop. She won election as the Aquinnah tribe’s chairwoman in 2016, and has continued its pursuit of a gambling facility in Aquinnah.
CNN reported that Warren did not mention the recent controversy surrounding her, including a report last week in the Washington Post that included a signed registration card for the State Bar of Texas in 1986 where she listed “American Indian” for her race. That report has reignited the controversy, forcing her to make several public apologies.
The Huffington Post reported that Warren received a standing ovation. “She was warmly welcomed at Tuesday’s event,” the Huffington Post report stated. “She could barely make it through the crowd of about 150 people as she was trying to leave, with attendees swarming her for photos and hugs by the door.”
After praising two Native American women recently elected to Congress — Reps. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) — Warren also praised Andrews-Maltais, according to the Huffington Post report. “The agenda is enormous and the fights will be tough,” Warren said, according to the report. “In tough fights, it is important to have leaders like Cheryl out in front. Cheryl is warm, and understanding, and sharp. She’s forceful, and let’s say it — she persists.”
The National Congress of American Indians is holding its winter meetings in Washington, but Tuesday’s luncheon was not part of that event, according to the CNN report.
Andrews-Maltais was not immediately available for comment.