‘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…’
(Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg News) Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren attempted to put an early political stumble behind her … by bringing it up again.
The Cherokee Nation confirmed Friday that Warren had apologized for using a DNA test to try to prove she’s part Native American.
“Senator Warren has reached out to us and has apologized to the tribe,” Julie Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation, said Friday in an email. “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.”
After Warren released the genetic analysis in October, Native American groups and activists—including the Cherokee, with whom she claimed affiliation—said it showed a lack of understanding about what constitutes Native identity, even if the result had indicated that Warren’s assertion was true.
Beyond a simple boast, Warren has been accused of exploiting her “minority status” for years, if not decades, to gain an inside track on professional opportunities while teaching and practicing law, thereby depriving actual minorities.
The blunder with the DNA test, along with other bizarre stunts, like chugging a beer on New Year’s Eve, have painted a picture of the ultra-liberal Massachusetts senator as tone deaf and out of touch, just as she is getting a campaign underway for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
President Donald Trump has frequently ridiculed Warren for her claim of Native American heritage, calling her “Pocahontas.”
At a political rally in July, Trump told supporters that if he were in a presidential debate with Warren he might hypothetically put up $1 million for her to prove she had Native American blood.
“Let’s say I’m debating Pocahontas . . .we will say, ‘I will give you $1 million to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.’”
Although the inconclusive test did confirm that Warren likely had a Native American ancestor dating back six to 10 generations, Trump subsequently said he’d pay only if he could “test her personally.”
Some Democratic colleagues said that it was a mistake for Warren to respond to him, which did more to feed the trolling than to dispel it and created an off-message distraction at best—and more than likely a political liability—in the lead-up to the contentious midterm election.
Even her hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe, encouraged her not to run for the presidency after her November re-election bid in a solid-blue state showed dwindling support.
Amid a crowded primary field, Warren already faces an uphill funding battle while calling on several billionaires and billionaire-supported candidates to pledge, unrealistically, to rely only on grassroots fundraising.
But despite the long odds, Warren has persisted in marching to her own drum, leaving her defenders scrambling to put a positive spin on the missteps.
“She was likely damned if she did respond and damned if she didn’t,” said Neil Sroka, a spokesman for the progressive activist group Democracy For America. “It’s never too late to do the right thing and that’s exactly what Warren did” by apologizing, he said.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
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