Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, and Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, has issued an apology to the Cherokee Nation for falsely claiming Native American Heritage, which they had seen as disrespectful.
As far back as 1986, Elizabeth Warren had been listed as a minority professor in the Harvard Law directory. Using family stories, and high cheekbones, Warren labeled herself Native American for professional gain. Despite opposition and skepticism, she would double down on her claim.
When challenged by now President Donald Trump over her alleged ancestry, despite not showing any visual or cultural relation to any tribe, even being nicknamed ‘Pochahontas’ ironically, Warren had finally agreed to take a DNA test. This backfired tremendously.
The DNA tests came back, and she was shown to be partially Native American… sort of. The results showed she was between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American. For all intent and purposes, she was a pure white woman. Ignorant of the tiny drop in the bucket worth of Native heritage, she still claimed full ancestry and demanded Trump honor his promise to donate $1 million to a charity of her choosing.
President Trump was not the only one disappointed in ‘Pocahontas’s’ fake heritage claims. Initially, after the revelation, the Cherokee Nation ripped into Warren’s minority status parade. Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said:
A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America. Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.
Three months after the initial controversy, Warren has at long last admitted her wrongdoings. With constant questioning of her disrespect towards the Cherokee Nation during her presidential run, Elizabeth Warren has finally issued a private apology. Cherokee Nation’s executive director of communications Julie Hubbard told The Intercept:
Senator Warren has reached out to us and has apologized to the tribe. 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.
With a continuously expanding presidential field for the Democrats, it is anyone’s guess whether the damage was already done and whether the apology will do anything to sway potentially unease voters.