In the wake of President Donald Trump’s comments about Senator Elizabeth Warren during a ceremony to honor Navajo Code Talkers, former congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick claimed in a Facebook post that Apache was her “first language.” The claim shocked close associates, who know that her native tongue is English.
Kirkpatrick, like Warren, seems to have appropriated the Native American culture to advance her career, according to friends and family from Northern Arizona. While Kirkpatrick may have spent her early youth on the Apache reservation in northern Arizona, her father, an American of European descent, spoke Apache while running a trading post, according to sources. The trading post served members of the Apache Tribe and catered to mostly White pulp mill workers.
Both of Kirkpatrick’s parents are Americans of European descent. Generally speaking, a person’s “first language” is that language which is spoken at home. According to sources, Kirkpatrick may have had a babysitter, whose first language was Apache, but the language was not the primary language in thehome. When Kirkpatrick was in second grade, her family moved off the reservation to Pinetop-Lakeside. While Kirkpatrick may have uttered the Apache words mááʼ “mother,” or taa “father,” that would likely have been the extent of her “first language” say sources.
Just met Thomas Begay who was “puzzled” but not offended by Trump’s Pocahontas quip: “The Marines made us yell ‘Geronimo’ when we jumped out of planes + that didn’t offend me either.” pic.twitter.com/6wOonggocE
— Joshua Green (@JoshuaGreen) November 28, 2017
Sergio Arellano, a native to southern Arizona and community activist, questioned Kirkpatrick’s motives behind the claim. “This brings back memories of when Fred DuVal, who was running for governor at the time, sprayed himself tan and superimposed his image behind bottles of Dos Equis, trying to look Hispanic,” said Arellano in an interview on the James T. Harris show. “That exposed the fact that these Democrats are not only uncomfortable with their own identities; they lack diversity in their party. They have these Anglos moving in from other districts – coming down – trying to relate to the diverse population in another district – namely CD2. Then she claims that she speaks Apache, and that’s her first language?”
Just last month, a video was released for a short time, in which Kirkpatrick is seen trying to dodge a young Native American woman during a campaign event. The Native American woman wanted to know why Kirkpatrick was ignoring tribal issues. It was not the first video of Kirkpatrick dodging voters. A video of her literally running away from constituents has haunted her for years.
Kirkpatrick, who failed to win reelection during her first term in Congress, left her congressional seat in CD1 last election cycle to run against John McCain. She failed in that effort, and now she’s moved down to southern Arizona. The move has earned her criticism as a “carpetbagger.”