When U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a closely watched speech this week to a group of Native American tribal leaders, it was the chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) who introduced her to the gathering “as a friend and supporter of Indian country.”

In a two-and-half minute introduction to Senator Warren’s first appearance before the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais said they “are truly fortunate to have a friendly senator like her in Congress. She has earned my respect and my friendship. She is a true sister in our fight.”

In her speech Wednesday, Senator Warren defended her claims of Native American ancestry, criticized President Trump for derisively calling her “Pochahontas,” and vowed to advocate for tribal issues. The appearance also was seen as an attempt to address critics who have questioned her commitment to Indian issues in the Senate.

In her introduction, Ms. Andrews-Maltais noted that the day the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Aquinnah tribe’s plans to build an electronic bingo parlor, Senator Warren “personally called me to congratulate the tribe and to encourage us to continue to exercise our sovereignty and our rights. And Senator Warren is not just an advocate for Aquinnah. She is an advocate and champion for all of Indian country.”