News

U.S.

Native Americans React to Warren’s DNA Test

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Capitol Hill (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Many in the Native American community reacted angrily Monday after Senator Elizabeth Warren released the results of a DNA test showing that she has a distant Native American ancestor.

Warren has long said she is part Native American, prompting mockery from Republicans and President Trump, who nicknamed her “Pocahontas” during the 2016 campaign season. The 2020 presidential hopeful appeared in a short campaign-style video promoting the results of the test, which reportedly show that she is between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American, and calling the president a liar for denying her ancestry.

Some Native American Twitter users, however, objected to the idea that a simple DNA test makes a person part of their community.

“That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works,” Native American Twitter user Emmy Scott wrote. “Can Warren just stop? I would much rather it said Warren meets with Cherokee women to apologize. This is NOT how you make amends to Natives FYI.”

“Native identity is more than blood and blood myths,” user Emilio Reyes wrote. “Being Native is about culture, language, history and more! But you don’t have that, stop claiming Native, PERIOD!”

Dr. Adrienne Keene, a Cherokee Nation member and Ethnic Studies professor at Brown University, took issue with a point in Warren’s video where officials from the schools the senator taught at denied ethnicity was a factor in her hiring.

“My tribal citizenship was a factor in my hiring. As it should be,” wrote Keene. “I represent my nation & Native ppls in this space & we wouldn’t have a voice otherwise. But I’m also a great teacher.”

Kim TallBear, a professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Alberta, called Warren’s move a “strike against tribal sovereignty” in a statement.

“She continues to defend her ancestry claims as important despite her historical record of refusing to meet with Cherokee Nation community members who challenge her claims,” TallBear said. “This shows that she focuses on and actually privileges DNA company definitions in this debate, which are ultimately settler-colonial definitions of who is Indigenous.”

Some Native Americans also came to Warren’s defense, saying she is not claiming tribal membership, only distant ancestry.

“Elizabeth Warren has stood up against Trump from day 1,” Native American writer Ruth Hopkins said on Twitter. “I will support Warren as long as she fights for my People.”

Update 7:07p.m.: Cherokee Nation secretary of state Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued a statement Monday criticizing Warren for misrepresenting the effectiveness of DNA tests in corroborating claims of Native American ancestry.

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. Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. 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, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is prove. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Sinking Collusion Ship

The entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative was always implausible. One, the Washington swamp of fixers such as Paul Manafort and John and Tony Podesta was mostly bipartisan and predated Trump. Two, the Trump administration’s Russia policies were far tougher on Vladimir Putin than were those of Barack ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Problem with Certainty

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you having this read to you while you white-knuckle the steering wheel trying to get to wherever you’re going for the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More
World

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More
Culture

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More
U.S.

America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn’t quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. ... Read More