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Warren Apologizes to Cherokee Nation for Publicizing DNA Test

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.) speaks at an Organizing Event in Claremont, N.H., January 18, 2019. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has apologized to the Cherokee Nation for publicly releasing the results of her DNA test in an attempt to substantiate her claim to Native American ancestry ahead of a 2020 presidential run.

Warren called Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, on Thursday afternoon to apologize for advertising her DNA test in response to President Trump’s mockingly labeling her “Pocahontas” and questioning the validity of her claim.

“I understand that she apologized for causing confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and the harm that has resulted,” Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Julie Hubbard said. “The chief and secretary of state appreciate that she has reaffirmed that she is not a Cherokee Nation citizen or a citizen of any tribal nation.”

Warren’s apology, first reported by The Intercept, comes after a number of tribal leaders and liberal activists chastised her in October for appearing to use her claim to tribal identity to further her political career.

Cherokee Nation secretary of state Chuck Hoskin, in particular, condemned Warren’s actions in a column published in the Tulsa World, in which he argued that tribal identity transcends mere biology.

“This concept of family is key to understanding why citizenship matters,” Hoskin wrote. “That is why it offends us when some of our national leaders seek to ascribe inappropriately membership or citizenship to themselves. They would be welcome to our table as friends, but claiming to be family to gain a spot at the table is unwelcome.”

In the face of such criticisms, Warren initially defended her decision to release the DNA test, which was accompanied by a promotional video featuring her family members.

“I put it out there. It’s on the internet for anybody to see,” Warren said of the test, which indicated she had a Native American ancestor six to ten generations ago. “People can make of it what they will. I’m going to continue fighting on the issues that brought me to Washington.”

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