The Cherokee Nation waded yet again into the controversy over Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's ancestry Wednesday, decrying her Republican opponent Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and his staffers for disrespectfully inciting "war whoop chants" and "tomahawk chops" at a campaign event.
The group demanded an apology. A handful of Brown's staffers, including an aide in Brown's U.S. Senate office, were caught on tape waving their arms up and down and encouraging a crowd of supporters to join them in war cries.
Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, called the act "downright racist" and asked Brown to apologize immediately.
"It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native people," Baker says. "We need individuals in the United States Senate who respect Native Americans and have an understanding of tribal issues. I call upon Sen. Brown to apologize for the offensive actions of his staff and their uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples."
Brown told reporters immediately after the video's release he didn't "condone" the behavior, but his staff has not issued a formal apology. [Harry Reid Cancels Votes So Brown Debates Warren.]
Brown's staffers' actions appeared to be making fun of Warren, who was caught up in a controversy earlier this year after she was accused of claiming to be of Native American decent to get a faculty position and advance her career at Harvard University.
Brown has hit Warren hard on the controversy and released an ad Monday calling her heritage into question once again.
A coalition from the Cherokee Nation went after Warren earlier this year, looking for answers into why she had identified herself as a minority faculty staff member and then stopped once she earned tenure.
The Cherokee leader who penned the letter has ties to the Democrats. Baker participated in the 2012 Democratic convention as a delegate from Oklahoma and gave $1,000 to the Oklahoma Democratic Party this year. [Republican Candidates Run from Mitt Romney's 47 Percent Comment.]
The Tulsa World reported in July the Cherokee Nation leader attended a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee retreat in Massachusetts this summer and paid more than $30,000 to the DSCC to participate. [Sen. Scott Brown Calls for Todd Akin to Resign.]
In 2010, individuals from the Cherokee Nation gave $147,000 to Democrats and $52,600 to Republicans.
Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Amanda Clinton says the group's letter was not politically motivated.
"We have donated to both Republicans and Democrats," she says.
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