Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has apologized to the Cherokee Nation for taking a commercial DNA test and using the results to justify her claim that she has Native American ancestry, the Tulsa World is reporting. The Cherokee Nation, for its part, has accepted Warren’s apology and hopes to put the entire kerfuffle behind them.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who grew up in Oklahoma, has been dogged by a minor scandal over her ethnic heritage ever since 2012, as Politifact reported in December 2017. During her 2012 Senate race against Republican Scott Brown, the Boston Herald reported that Warren had claimed to have Native American ancestry at the University of Pennsylvania and then Harvard.
“Elizabeth Warren’s avowed Native American heritage — which the candidate rarely if ever discusses on the campaign trail — was once touted by embattled Harvard Law School officials who cited her claim as proof of their faculty’s diversity.”
Her critics say that she did so in order to gain an unfair advantage in her teaching career; whether or not her claim helped in her career is unknown but unlikely, says Politifact.
But did Warren actually have Native American ancestry? Donald Trump certainly doesn’t think so. He has repeatedly and publicly called the Massachusetts Senator “Pocahontas” to mock her claim (Pocahontas, born Matoaka and sometimes known as Amonute, was not Cherokee but from a network of tribes in the Tsenacommacah family).
In October 2018, according to a follow-up Politifact report, Warren took a commercial DNA test, and her results did indicate that she had a Native American ancestor, likely six to 10 generations ago. Warren took this to conclude that her claim of having Native American ancestry was true.
However, the move was largely seen as an embarrassing and unnecessary political misstep, and the Cherokee Nation characterized it as “inappropriate and wrong.” Warren has since apologized.
It remains unclear, as of this writing, how Warren communicated to Cherokee officials, or what was said between the two sides. Nevertheless, the Cherokees have responded publicly to Warren’s apology. Julie Hubbard, the tribe’s executive director of communications, said she hopes Warren’s apology puts the matter to rest.
“We are encouraged by this dialogue and understanding that being a Cherokee Nation tribal citizen is rooted in centuries of culture and laws not through DNA tests. We are encouraged by her action and hope that the slurs and mockery of tribal citizens and Indian history and heritage will now come to an end.”
Warren is expected to announce soon that she’s running for president in 2020.