Warren Won’t Say Whether She’s Identified as ‘American Indian’ on Other Documents

• February 6, 2019 7:48 pm


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) on Wednesday was asked twice whether she identified herself as an "American Indian" on other documents, but avoided answering the question both times.

Warren took questions from reporters after she apologized for identifying herself as a Native American for almost two decades, including on her registration card for the State Bar of Texas, where she listed her race as "American Indian."

"Are there any more documents or any more forms like this out there that you have listed yourself as that could come out?" a reporter asked Warren.

The senator dodged the question, instead mentioning how she and her brother grew up hearing stories about Indian ancestry, saying, "This is our family's story."

"It's all consistent from that point in time," Warren continued. "But as I said, it's important to note, I'm not a tribal citizen, and I should have been more mindful of the distinction with tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty. And that is why I apologized to [Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation], and why I've made a very public apology."

Another reporter followed up by asking whether there could be any other documents on which she identified herself as an "American Indian."

"All I know is, during this time period, this is consistent with what I did because it was based on my understanding from my family's stories, but family stories are not the same as tribal citizenship," Warren said. "This is why I have apologized."

The Washington Post used an open records request during a general inquiry to obtain Warren's registration card for the State Bar of Texas, which showed that she identified as an "American Indian."

Warren filled out the card in April 1986 using blue ink, making it the first document to show her claim about her ancestry using her own handwriting. Warren's office did not challenge the authenticity of the registration card. In addition to her apology, it was previously reported that Warren called Chief Baker to apologize for the release of her DNA test, the Post noted.

Julie Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation, declined to address the scope of the conversation between Warren and the chief.

Warren, asked in a brief interview Tuesday if she'd intended the apology to include labeling herself as Native American when at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard University, replied "yes." She gave the same response when asked if it included labeling herself as a minority in the Association of American Law Schools directory.

"I told him I was sorry for furthering confusion about tribal citizenship," Warren said. "I am also sorry for not being more mindful about this decades ago. We had a good conversation." CNN reported her broader apology on Monday.

The apology has met with mixed reactions. Several tribal members applauded her. "This closes the matter," tweeted Keith Harper, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council. "Onward."

Published under: Elizabeth Warren, Native American