U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley zinged Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) on Thursday night at a charity dinner, joking that the organizers wanted an Indian woman, but "Warren failed her DNA test."
Haley, who recently announced that she would be leaving her ambassador role at the end of the year, cracked jokes at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, which is a charity event that raises money for impoverished children. It's a regular stop for prominent political leaders.
She began her joke by mentioning how House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) spoke at the charity dinner last year, calling him a "boy scout" and "a little boring."
"So this year you wanted to spice things up a bit, right? I get it. You wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test," said Haley, whose parents both emigrated from India.
Haley made reference to Warren releasing her DNA test results showing she could be anywhere between 1/64th to 1/1,024th Native American. It was Warren's attempt to diffuse a controversy over whether she has Cherokee heritage as she claimed during her career in academia, and which has shadowed her political career for years.
President Donald Trump has derided Warren as "Pocahontas" for years, even at an event honoring Native American Code Talkers from World War II. The Free Beacon noted how tenuous her claim to Native American identity is:
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.
The Cherokee Nation on Monday responded to Warren by saying she was making a "mockery out of DNA tests" and "dishonoring legitimate tribal governments."
"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," Cherokee secretary of state Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. "Senator Elizabeth Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage."