A congresswoman in California apologized Sunday for offending Native Americans with a stereotypical "war whoop."

Congresswoman First Dodges Reporters, Then Apologizes for Making Indian 'War Whoop'

Simon Moya-Smith

A congresswoman in California vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate apologized Sunday for offending Native Americans after a video surfaced of her making a stereotypical Indian “war whoop” when addressing a room of Indian Americans.

“In this crazy and exciting rush of meetings yesterday, I said something offensive, and for that I sincerely apologize,” Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez said Sunday at the state Democratic Party convention in Anaheim, California, Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times reported.

Sanchez was speaking to the Indian American Caucus in Anaheim on Saturday when she attempted to differentiate Native Americans and Indian Americans.

“I’m going to his office, thinking I’m going to meet with …” Sanchez said in the video before patting her hand on her mouth and making the “war cry” sound.

“Right? ... because he said, ‘Indian American,’” Sanchez added.

When a reporter attempted to question Sanchez about her offensive gesticulation she literally ran away, fleeing into a building.

Sanchez’s congressional opponent, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, said she was “shocked” by the congresswoman's gesture.

“I don’t know what to say to that,” she said. “That’s shocking.”

During her apology Sunday, Representative Sanchez claimed to have Native American ancestry on her mother’s side.

“They know my record,” she said, referring to Native Americans. “They know how much I have spent – the time that I have spent with them at their tribal councils, listening to them, advocating for them. They know that I have always had their backs. And they know what many of you don’t know – that like so many Mexican Americans, I am proudly Native American on my mother’s side.”

The man who filmed Sanchez said people in the room were taken aback by Sanchez's offensive gesture.

“I was shocked and appalled that she’d make the disparaging comments about Native Americans that way,” Uduak-Joe Ntuke of Long Beach, California told NBC Sacramento affiliate KCRA.

Joe Horse Capture, who is A’aninin and based in Washington, D.C., told ICTMN he finds it concerning that a congresswoman who wishes to represent a state with a large Native American population lacks “the basic understanding of Native American culture – what is appropriate and what is inappropriate.”

Horse Capture said Sanchez’s claim that she is part Native American is trite, since many who are caught offending Native Americans later claim to have some indigenous North American heritage.

“And what people often do when they find themselves in a culturally inappropriate circumstance is they claim that they‘re Native American,” Horse Capture said. “Of course if she were actually tied to her Native American culture and practiced her heritage she would know better.”

ICTMN's attempts to contact Representative Sanchez for comment were unsuccessful.

Watch Sanchez's offensive “war whoop” here:

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rockymissouri's picture
Submitted by rockymissouri on
WOW..!! She sounds ignorant ...and reminds me of Marsha Blackburn. This is no way to get to be a senator....

Jay Heno
Jay Heno
Submitted by Jay Heno on
What she did in mocking American Indians formulated in her mind way before her display of racial stereotyping - understand she had those thoughts when she was calling the Indian-American rep; the actually verbalization came out later. Not an accident or mistake, rather, it came from a belief.

sonnyskyhawk's picture
Submitted by sonnyskyhawk on
As an American Indian who, works, lives and pays taxes in California, I am not surprised at such ignorance. She managed to get her foot stuck in her mouth, and could not pull it out. First, by mouthing the stereotype war- whoop, followed by stating she was Native -American. Then, her mea-culpa apology was so disingenuous, it further drove in the stake. They never seem to learn. My vote is now going to Calif. AG, Kamala Harris.

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Too bad we are reading about a Democrat otherwise the article written by Mr. Moya, 'cultural editor', would be longer, and targeted. When a Democrat says "it"….it's a mistake, mis-spoke, error. When somebody else says "it"….it racist, harmful, destructive Ennittt?

Glamtrashtic's picture
Submitted by Glamtrashtic on
She was "wra wra wra wra wrong". She surely showed her ignorance by also running as if there were many "um' Indians chasing her! I would never vote for an ignorant minority. And these type of women certainly think they are better.