The Cherokee Nation on Monday responded to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) releasing her Native American DNA test by saying she was making a "mockery out of DNA tests" and "dishonoring legitimate tribal governments."
Warren released DNA test results Monday morning showing that she could be anywhere between 1/64th to 1/1,024th Native American. This was apparently an attempt to put to rest a controversy, which has followed her for years, while she considers running for president in 2020.
The Cherokee Nation's blistering statement is not likely to improve her standing among identity-conscious voters.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., the secretary of state of Cherokee Nation, slammed Warren for her DNA test, saying it was "useless" and that she was "undermining tribal interests."
"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," Hoskin Jr. said. "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," he continued. "Senator Elizabeth Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage."
Warren listed herself as Native American while teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1987 to 1995 and then at Harvard Law School beginning in 1995, the Boston Globe reports. Fact-checkers had not been able to verify her claims because they were based on "family lore."
She released to the Globe her DNA results analyzed by Stanford University Professor Carlos Bustamante, known for his work on tracking population migration via DNA analysis. His calculation: Her "pure Native American ancestor" appeared "in the range of 6-10 generations ago," which would track with her family lore that her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was at least part-Native American.