Cherokee Nation: Warren Privately Apologized for Releasing DNA Test


February 1, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has apologized to the Cherokee Nation for publicizing a DNA test that showed she had a distant Native American ancestor, according to tribal officials.

Warren, long criticized for claiming to have Native American ancestry without formal proof, released the results of a DNA test in October that showed she could be anywhere between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American. It was widely viewed as a serious stumble by Warren, with mockery from conservatives over how marginal her claim was and derision from progressives for delving into race science.

Tribe spokesman Julie Hubbard said Warren called Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, to apologize, according to the New York Times. She described the conversation as brief and private.

"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," Hubbard said. "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 took heat from Cherokee Nation secretary of state Chuck Hoskin Jr. at the time, who said in a statement she was "undermining tribal interests." Warren said in the video that only tribes can determine tribal citizenship.

Warren, who formed an exploratory committee for the presidency in December, is expected to formally launch her campaign in a speech on Feb. 9.

She is hoping to earn the right to challenge President Donald Trump, who helped goad Warren into taking the test by mockingly referring to her as "Pocahontas."

She visited Iowa early last month and was asked by one voter why she took the test and gave "Donald Trump more fodder to be a bully." She responded that she simply wanted to get all the information about her background out there for voters.

"I am not a person of color," she said. "I am not a citizen of a tribe. Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry. Tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship and I respect that."

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 reported. She grew up in Oklahoma and has long said her father's family didn't approve of his marriage to Warren's mother, because she was part Native American.

UPDATE: 2:00 P.M.: This article was updated with information about Warren's phone call to Baker.