Elizabeth Warren apologises to Cherokee Nation for DNA test, tribe says

Clémence Michallon

Elizabeth Warren has reportedly apologised for previously relying on a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry.

The Massachusetts senator “reached out to us and has apologised to the tribe”, Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Julie Hubbard said in a statement relayed by CNN. The Independent has contacted Ms Hubbard and Ms Warren's team for more information.

Ms Warren publicised the results of a DNA test she had taken in October last year. In a video, she could be heard talking with Stanford University genetics professor Carlos Bustamante, who told her the results of the test suggest she “absolutely” has Native American ancestry.

The test, and Ms Warren’s decision to make its results public, led to backlash, including from Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr who said at the time in a statement: “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 proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

Ms Hubbard said the tribe views Ms Warren’s reported apology as a hopeful sign.

“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,” she added in her statement. “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.”

Ms Warren publicised the results of her DNA test in response to Donald Trump, who has frequently mocked the senator’s references to her Native American heritage – at one point referring to Ms Warren as “Pocahontas”.

She is expected to officially announce her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on 9 February, having opened her presidential exploratory committee a month ago.

The senator has been telling supporters she is to make a "big announcement" on that day.

Additional reporting by agencies.