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WASHINGTON — The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in a joint statement issued on Thursday with the Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative, is demanding accountability from CNN, for the racist comments made by Rick Santorum network’s senior political commentator relating to Native American influence on American culture.

Santorum, a former GOP Senator from Pennsylvania, Republican presidential candidate, said “we birthed a nation from nothing. . . I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

The Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative’s joint statement said, in part:

“These remarks are a gross attempt to play revisionist historian using classic white supremacist rhetoric, and is the exact type of dangerous manipulation we have come to expect from extremists and fringe outlets. But even worse are the great lengths to which CNN, a mainstream media platform tasked with the pursuit of truth and reporting on the facts, has gone to cover for this kind of blatant racist propaganda. It is these kinds of lies, fueled by outright racism, that continue to empower hate groups and white nationalists to commit acts of terror, including storming the Capitol on January 6th of this year.

It is bad enough that a one-time presidential candidate and former Senator is willing to promote false narratives for political gain. But to essentially justify the murder of millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives and the taking of their lands, and in the process erase their legacies and co-opt their countless and enduring contributions and influence, in the name of “Judeo-Christian” values is nothing short of repulsive.

Mr. Santorum’s remarks are not only factually incorrect but they continue the erasure of Native Americans contributions to this country. Today, there are 574 federally-recognized tribes and many more state-recognized tribes with a population of over 8 million. Santorum’s inflammatory remarks dismiss each of the Tribal Nations who previously occupied the very state he represented as a member of Congress: Susquehannock, Erie, Lenape, Iroquois, Munsee, and Shawnee of Pennsylvania. In fact, it is because of our government’s aggressive and genocidal American Indian and Alaska Native removal campaigns that there are currently no federally recognized tribal nations in Pennsylvania.”

The statement further says CNN’s silence since the issue surfaced is deafening.

“By failing to denounce these comments, CNN intrinsically ties itself to a blatantly racist commentator. And, this is not the first time that CNN has outright refused to recognize and be inclusive of American Indians and Alaska Natives. In its live Election Night coverage in November, CNN, while listing white, black, Latino and Asian voters, labeled American Indian and Alaska Native voters as “something else.” When asked to issue an apology for that discriminatory coverage, CNN refused," the statement continues.

The Collaborative wants CNN to take swift action to denounce Santorum's remarks, issue a written apology to American Indian and Alaska Native communities, cut ties with Rick Santorum, train and educate reporters and pundits on American Indian and Alaska Native culture, white supremacy and anti-racism, and encourage reporting on race in a responsible and equitable way. 

The Racial Anchor Collaborative includes the following leading national racial equity anchor organizations (the Anchors): Advancement Project National Office, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS.

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