A day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released DNA test results divulging only minuscule amounts, if any, of her purported Native-American heritage, President Donald Trump called for a formal apology from Warren for deceiving Americans.
Warren attempted to use the results as evidence to back up her claims of heritage, only to have it flatly rejected by the Cherokee Nation—the largest federally recognized tribal enterprise in the nation.
In a string of Oct. 16 posts on Twitter, Trump described Warren as a “phony” and said she only got her job as a law professor at Harvard University because of her heritage claims. A 1997 Fordham Law Review piece had described hiring Warren as Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color.” Trump also thanked Cherokee Nation for their statement.
“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,” Trump wrote. “Now Cherokee Nation denies her, ‘DNA test is useless.’ Even they don’t want her. Phony!”
In a subsequent post minutes later, Trump wrote: “Now that her claims of being of Indian heritage have turned out to be a scam and a lie, Elizabeth Warren should apologize for perpetrating this fraud against the American Public. Harvard called her ‘a person of color’ (amazing con), and would not have taken her otherwise!”
Carlos Bustamante, a professor of genetics at Stanford University and adviser to Ancestry.com, conducted the test. Buried in page 3 of the report (pdf) it states they used genetic samples from “Mexico, Peru, and Colombia,” for Warren’s DNA analysis since there are no Native American reference sequences from inside the United States.
The analysis placed Warren’s purported Native American ancestry between 6 and 10 generations ago, revealing that Warren is possibly between 1/64 to 1/1024—or 0.09 percent Native American. Scientists told the New York Times in 2014 that European-Americans are 0.18% Native American on average, potentially making Warren less Native American than most European-Americans.
The Boston Globe, which first reported the results, said initially that Warren has “strong evidence” of Native-American heritage before later saying the calculations were wrong and issued a correction. However, the media quickly pounced upon the initial angle.
“Correction: Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 6th to 10th generation relative. The generational range based on the ancestor that the report identified suggests she’s between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American,” the Globe said in its correction.
In a widely shared statement announcing their rejection of Warren’s results, Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said: “A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America.”
“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, who ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage,” the statement continued.
Warren will face Republican challenger Geoff Diehl in the upcoming November elections. The latest poll by RealClearPolitics conducted in the first week of October found Warren ahead of Diehl by 25 points.
She responded to Cherokee Nation in a statement, in part saying “I respect the distinction, & don’t list myself as Native in the Senate.”
In an opinion piece on CNN by Simon Moya-Smith, a Native-American, he lamented that even if Warren did have a small amount of Native-American heritage, she remained questionably silent on the pressing affairs concerning the tribe.
“Where has she been on these many issues that plague our communities? Although the results from her DNA test are new, her identity claims here aren’t. Why has she ignored us for so long? Why only now come around?… Furthermore, name me one nation or tribe that claims her. None do.”