At a little-noticed campaign event late last month, Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker announced with great fanfare that his grandmother was “full-blood Cherokee” and that it means he is Native American.
“My mom just told me that my mom, grandmother, was full-blood Cherokee,” Walker said at the Sept. 28 event in Forsyth, Georgia. “So I’m Native American!”
“I’m a super mutt,” he continued. “I don’t know what I am, but this was so funny. This was so funny. I said, ‘Mom, why you never said anything to us?’ She said, ‘Back in my days, a lot of the Native Americans were treated worse than Blacks.’”
Walker has been claiming for months that he has significant Native American ancestry, saying each time that he’d just learned this news from his mom.
At a January campaign event at the University of Georgia, he said he had just found out that his mother is “40% Native American.”
He repeated his claim at four campaign events in May, as if he had just discovered it. At one, he said he just learned that his mother is “a big part Native American” and it means he is “part Native American, too.” At another, he said again, “My mom is part Native American, a big part” and it means “I am ‘other’ as well.” At another, he said is “proud to be Black but … I may not be Black” because he just learned “my mother is part Native American.” And at still another, he said he just found out his “mom is a big part Native American.”
At a June 20th campaign event in College Park, Georgia, Walker said he found out “I’m part Native American” by doing a 23 and Me ancestry test. He said he wanted to “acknowledge all of my family,” referring to Native Americans.
His September claim went the furthest. He said his mother had just told him his grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee.
Walker hasn’t offered any evidence to back up his claims about having Native ancestry beyond saying it’s what his mother told him.
HuffPost reached out to all three of the federally recognized Cherokee tribes in the U.S. ― Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians ― to see if they had any records that could validate Walker’s claims of ancestry in their tribes.
Two did not respond. But a spokesperson for Cherokee Nation, the largest tribal government in the U.S. with more than 360,000 citizens, said it has no record of Walker in its database of citizens.
“There is no one listed in Cherokee Nation’s Registration database with that name and birthdate,” said the tribe’s spokesperson.