Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in response to Donald Trump’s taunts about her claim to Native American ancestry, released the results of a DNA test she recently took. The report showed evidence of a small percentage of indigenous ancestry (she would be about 1/1024th Native American). Though Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test proved that her claim to Native American ancestry was not false, does it prove much of anything else at all – and will it hurt her if she runs for the presidency?
Many Native Americans have publicly criticized Elizabeth Warren for claiming Native American (specifically Cherokee) ancestry. Warren does not affiliate culturally or tribally with Native Americans, and her DNA test does not connect her with a specific tribe. Tribal affiliation is what is considered when one wants to demonstrate Native American heritage.
“(Warren’s) types of claims can damage the validity and work of indigenous people who are living their identities every day,” said Twyla Baker, a citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota. “It also lays the groundwork to do serious damage to our sovereignty, as tribes are responsible for defining who is a tribal citizen.”
In acknowledgment of Native Americans’ criticism, Warren said, “There’s a distinction between citizenship and ancestry. I wish I had been more mindful of that distinction. The tribes and only the tribes determine citizenship.”
On the other hand, one North Dakota tribal leader, Jamie Azure, supports Elizabeth Warren’s embracing of the Native American part of her heritage. “It made me feel proud to see her talking about it,” Azure said. “She’s proud to have it in her blood.”
Though Elizabeth Warren was likely hoping to lay Donald Trump’s taunts of “Pocahontas” to rest with the DNA results, she appears to have inspired more criticism than support, from all sides. Her “proof” of Native American ancestry, rather than quieting Trump’s supporters, will likely inspire them to focus on the views put forth by Trump, outlined in the following tweet:
“Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed. She took a bogus DNA test and it showed that she may be 1/1024, far less than the average American. Now Cherokee Nation denies her, ‘DNA test is useless.’ Even they don’t want her. Phony!”
Had Elizabeth Warren continued to ignore Donald Trump’s bullying about her ancestry claims, perhaps she could have turned the focus to her accomplishments and her fitness for office. Had Warren dismissed Trump’s taunts of “Pocahontas,” instead of trying to prove herself with a DNA test, perhaps she would have gotten further in allowing Donald Trump to show himself as petty and racist. Now, however, if Warren decides to run for president in 2020, the Democratic party may have to add damage control of the “Elizabeth Warren Native American DNA Debacle” to its list of items to address.
Cherokee Nation calls Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test “useless” | CBS This Morning [2018-10-16]
Should Warren have released DNA test after midterms? | Fox News [2018-10-15]