Sen. Elizabeth Warren has apologized to the Cherokee Nation after releasing DNA test results in October indicating she had Native American ancestry, a tribe spokeswoman said Friday.
“Senator Warren has reached out to us and has apologized to the tribe,” Hubbard said in a statement. “We are encouraged by this dialogue and understanding that being a Cherokee Nation tribal citizen is rooted in centuries of culture and laws not through DNA tests. We are encouraged by her action and hope that the slurs and mockery of tribal citizens and Indian history and heritage will now come to an end.”
Warren is considering a run for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Her campaign could not be reached Thursday afternoon to confirm the apology.
Warren, who announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee before the new year, faced criticism after her decision in October to release the results of a DNA test that showed she had a Native American ancestor between six and 10 generations ago. The move was intended to quell backlash against her claims of Native American heritage but instead resulted in even more mockery, namely from President Trump, who has repeatedly referred to her as “Pocahontas.”
“Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “… Now Cherokee Nation denies her, ‘DNA test is useless.’ Even they don’t want her. Phony!”
The Cherokee Nation condemned Warren for appearing to define ethnicity through a test, while others felt she had caved to the president, who has claimed Warren uses Native American culture to benefit politically.
“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 Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement at the time. “Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”
While campaigning in Sioux City, Iowa, earlier this year, Warren was asked why she took the test — seemingly giving Trump more fuel to continue his attacks.
In her response, she clarified: “I am not a person of color. I am not a citizen of a tribe.”
“Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry. Tribes, and only tribes, determine tribal citizenship, and I respect that difference. I grew up in Oklahoma, and like a lot of folks in Oklahoma, we heard stories about our ancestry,” she said. “When I first ran for public office, Republicans homed in on this part of my history and thought they could make a lot of hay out of it. A lot of racial slurs and a lot of ugly stuff. And so my decision was: I’m just going to put it all out there. Took a while, but just put it all out there.”