The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation is calling on Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., to apologize for a video that allegedly shows members of his staff imitating “stereotypical ‘war whoops chants.’”
As WBUR’s Curt Nickisch reported Tuesday for All Things Considered, Brown’s supporters were filmed imitating “tomahawk chops” at a rally in Dorchester, Mass., over the weekend. The antics were apparently directed at Elizabeth Warren, Brown’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race; Warren has been criticized for telling previous academic employers that she has Native American heritage.
Now, Brown and the GOP are under fire for supporters’ actions that “goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse,” Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement Wednesday.
“The use of stereotypical ‘war whoop chants’ and ‘tomahawk chops’ are offensive and downright racist,” he said. “It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.”
Early Tuesday, Brown said he didn’t condone the action at the rally.
The Boston Globe has reported that two of the people in the video were Republican staffers, “including a member of Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate office.”
The New York Times reports that Warren called the video “appalling.” A second video originally posted by the Chatham Republicans and reposted by the Blue Mass Group on Wednesday shows Brown speaking at a rally this summer about Warren’s heritage as “war whoops” can be heard.
Baker said Brown’s comments Tuesday didn’t go far enough, and called for a full apology:
“We need individuals in the United States Senate who respect Native Americans and have an understanding of tribal issues. For that reason, I call upon Sen. Brown to apologize for the offensive actions of his staff and their uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples.”
Amanda Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation, told NPR that so far no one from the Brown campaign has contacted her in response to the videos.