Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., argued that her family’s claim to Native American ancestry is an indelible part of who she is — something that can never be taken away.
Warren defended herself on NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” Sunday morning when asked what she thought about taking an easily accessible DNA test, such as those offered by 23andMe or Ancestry, to settle the ongoing controversy over her heritage.
Rather than address that question specifically, Warren told a story about how her mother and father, born and raised in Oklahoma, met as teenagers and fell head-over-heels in love. Her father’s family was bitterly opposed to their relationship, she said, because her mother was part Native American, but the couple eloped and persevered.
“That’s the story that my brothers and I all learned from our Mom and our Dad, from our grandparents and all of our aunts and uncles. It’s a part of me, and nobody is going to take that part of me away — not ever,” Warren said.
After hearing this story, Todd returned to his initial concern: Why not do genealogical research or take a DNA test to find out her actual heritage? What’s wrong with knowing whether her family’s story was the truth?
“I do know. I know who I am. And never used it for anything, never got any benefit out of it anywhere,” she said.
Warren has many liberal admirers who wish to see her pursue the Democratic presidential nomination for the 2020 election. But she’s also been dogged by the allegation that she has claimed Native American ancestry to advance her academic career. The claim emerged as a controversy in 2012 when she successfully challenged Scott Brown’s Senate seat. But it took on new life when President Trump incorporated “Pocahontas” into his list of insults for political opponents.
On March 6, the Berkshire Eagle, a daily newspaper published in Pittsfield, Mass., published an editorial calling upon Warren to take one of the many commercially available DNA tests to settle the controversy. If the test showed Native American DNA, her claims would be vindicated, and it might even shut down Trump. If it did not, she could offer an apology to Native American tribes and anyone else offended by her claim.
“By facing the truth and taking responsibility for it, she would disarm her enemies and show potential voters that she was human and capable of mistakes, just like them,” the editorial reads. “Handled properly, it could become a testimonial to her integrity and truthfulness at a time when that quality is in short supply among the nation’s leadership.”