Opinion: Rick Santorum’s Words Aren’t Just Ignorant—They’re Self-Contradictory

Opinion: Rick Santorum’s Words Aren’t Just Ignorant—They’re Self-Contradictory

Posted By Jeanette Centeno May 7th, 2021 Last Updated on: May 22nd, 2021

By now, you've probably heard former senator Rick Santorum's nauseating preamble in which he not only denied the historic atrocities committed to indigenous people but also proudly white-washed American history in stating, “We birthed a nation from nothing.”

To CNN and many who share Santorum’s views: indigenous people are far too often labeled as “something else” or nothing at all. For indigenous people to be seen, we have to be acknowledged for who we are, what was done to our ancestors, and the fact that we're still here. As Santorum fumbled through his words, he candidly added, “I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

UPDATE – As of 5/22/21 CNN has fired Rick Santorum!

There isn't much Native American culture in American culture?

Apparently, Santorum needs a reminder that the very essence of our nation comes from indigenous people.

The framework of our entire government was based on the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of indigenous tribes living in northeastern North America that had a participatory democracy government with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The Iroquois Confederacy is said to have inspired Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and others. The “Founding Fathers” also adopted the Iroquois nation's symbol, the bald eagle, as the new nation's national symbol.

Beyond that, so much of our food, art, music, judicial and medical practices can be traced back to indigenous people. However, the prevailing sentiment of erasure implies that in order for white culture to exist, indigenous culture must somehow be eliminated, or at the very least, whitewashed. The blank slate created by Santorum's forefathers was the genocide of thousands that birthed a nation in blood. 

@skanassa##nativetiktoks ##indigenous♬ original sound – Syngen Kanassatega

How did CNN respond to Santorum's racist narrative? They rewarded him with more airtime to further elaborate on the issue with Chris Cuomo. The cable news network touts as a liberal voice of equality, but they've been conspicuously silent in giving a voice to indigenous issues. Their lack of accountability for racist commentary emboldens people like Santorum to become even more vocal on such matters. Lack of education of indigenous people and culture, inaccurate historical accounts, and lack of representation has left an entire community feeling unheard and unseen.

We aren’t victims and do not need a white savior to stand on a pulpit and make false claims, but we do need respect. We need our voices to be heard, our stories to be told, and our issues to be properly addressed.

What Santorum, CNN, and those who share his views must remember is that indigenous people still exist, and by deliberately erasing indigenous culture, you are also erasing American culture.

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Issues » Opinion: Rick Santorum's Words Aren't Just Ignorant—They're Self-Contradictory

About Jeanette Centeno

Jeanette Centeno, RN, BSN, CM, is a nurse with 18 years of experience, ranging from Spinal Cord Injury patients to case management. She is committed to advocating for adequate healthcare and proper intervention for all people. Centeno currently works at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the leading acute care hospitals in treating Spinal Cord Injury.

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Teresa Hopper

I’m not a Native person but one idea I’ve thought of is to make native voices heard more, like the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of the time native people aren’t heard, because they’re not as numerous. Africans brought over to America had immunities to small pox, which wiped out so many native people that it’s a wonder there are any left. So the Europeans and Africans replaced them. So I would maybe get more into the legislature in the states and in Washington, I would love to see a native president or at least a few in congress. Then maybe they would not be as invisible. It hurts to hear about that Dakota pipeline, with other things going on that overshadow native matters.

Rita Revell

Wow, Rick! Yes compared to when white folks started coming in to settle in the 1600s the native population is smaller. After the government killed millions. Broke almost every single treaty ever signed with the natives. Etc. Sure hope he isn’t planning a bid for the WH.


Rick Santorum’s is about the stupidest man around if he really believes this load of bull. My paternal grandmother was Cherokee and I am proud to be part Cherokee. What is his nationality bet his family were not from a America in the beginning. My grandmother was and all her family. He has some nerve that’s why today’s kids are growing up the way they are, no respect for family or other people’s families races of all kinds. Just look at the hate that is out there and the killing raping and kidnapping of children and women. The one you don’t hear about is Indigenous people their children and women are taken away raprd and killed. Taken off their resveration.So RICK SANTORUM’S YOU REALLY ARE A ______ NOT TO CARE ABOUT OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WHO WERE FIRST.YOU WEREN’T NOR WERE YOUR RELATIVES!!!! MINE WERE .

Dave Filey

The only issue is education. Are the education institutions teaching the history? The history is there , it’s in the libraries it’s available but if it’s not taught in the schools then the uneducated perceptions will prevail. About the politicians, you can only defeat and have your redress by voting them out. This is not a difficult process. The Native American needs to put forward the candidates for change. Get rid of the ignorance, otherwise get prepared for another 100 years of misinformation and poor education and continue to be the victims of State abuse.

Free Email Series: What to Expect at Your First Pow Wow