New Hampshire Voter Confronts Warren Over Ancestry

Says Warren disrespected the purpose of affirmative action

July 19, 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) was confronted by a voter in New Hampshire over her claims of Native American heritage.

Participating in a "Conversation with the Candidate" forum with a New Hampshire ABC affiliate, the voter said that she was also incorrectly told she had Native American ancestry when she was younger. "Where we differ is that I'm the mom of three-year-old twins, and my three-year-old twins are black," she said, "And so it's given me a totally different perspective on the purpose of affirmative action."

The voter then said she struggled with Warren's decision to list herself as "American Indian" on her Texas State Bar registration card in 1986, which she said disrespected the reason for affirmative action, and asked Warren how she could reach voters who support her policies but don't think she's honest.

"Nothing about the way I identified had anything to do with my academic career, the Boston Globe did an extensive piece on that about a year ago," Warren said, "Even so, I shouldn't have done it, I am not a person of color, I am not a citizen of a tribe, and I've apologized for any confusion over tribal sovereignty, tribal citizenship, and any harm caused by that."

Warren released the results of a DNA test showing that she was between 1/64 and 1/1024 Native American. The stunt drew criticism from Native American groups, including an official condemnation from the Cherokee Nation that said that Warren was "dishonoring legitimate tribal governments." Warren, who claimed that her parents married despite opposition from her father's parents because her mother was part Native American, touted the DNA test as proof of her story.

The debacle has not appeared to harm Warren's chances in the Democratic presidential primary. A recent NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll taken after the first Democratic debate shows Warren tied for second at 16 percent with Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Former vice president Joe Biden led the poll with 25 percent.