In January, at a campaign event at the University of Georgia, Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker boldly announced that he had just found out through his mother that he is “40 percent Native American.”
In the following months, the former NFL star would repeat the claim several times with slightly different twists, though each time he said he had just learned the news.
HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reported that Walker said he just learned his mother is “a big part Native American” at a campaign event in May, described himself as “other” and said he found out “for a year and a half ago” by another May. event, and at a meet-and-greet in southern Georgia that same month, he claimed that he is “proud to be black, but… I might not be black” because he had just learned “my mom is part Indian.” At a June 20 campaign event in College Park, he made similar claims but added that he made the discovery using a 23andMe test. “I don’t care what color you are,” Walker said after saying he would “acknowledge my whole family.”
His latest, boldest announcement came at a campaign event last month, but this time he claimed his grandmother was “full-blooded Cherokee.”
“My mom just told me… so I’m Native American. I was like, ‘Oh, hey,'” he said, describing himself as a “super mutt.” Speaking on stage to his supporters at the Sept. 28 event in Forsyth, he said, “I don’t know what I am, but this was so funny. This was so funny. I said, ‘Mom, why did you never something for us?’ She said, “Back in my day, many of the Native Americans were treated worse than blacks.”
Walker and his campaign have not provided evidence for his claims, and some excavations done by Bendery have so far shown no links to Walker and the Native American community.
The Cherokee Nation, the largest of three recognized tribes in the United States, told HuffPost it had no record of Walker in its database. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Walker’s mother, Christine, spoke to the site and said “she has no idea if an immediate ancestor was full-blooded Cherokee.”
She said she grew up hearing stories about her father’s mother being “related” to the tribe, clarifying that “her grandmother was believed to be related to the Cherokee people somehow, but she knew not how.” She told HuffPost that “I don’t know how far back” the family’s Cherokee heritage went. “Look, my grandmother, she passed away when I was quite young. I don’t know too much about how she was connected.”
Walker’s campaign did not respond when contacted with a follow-up request for comment.