Warren releases DNA test showing 'strong evidence' of Native American ancestry

In an unprecedented effort to diffuse lingering questions about her heritage ahead of a possible presidential bid, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday released the results of a DNA test that the Massachusetts Democrat said proves she has a Native American in her ancestry.

The test — conducted by Stanford University professor Carlos D. Bustamante, a leading authority on genetic ancestry — showed “the vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, but also “strong evidence” that Warren’s DNA sample reveals a Native American in her family tree “six to 10 generations ago.”

Warren has said that, according to family lore, her great-great-great-grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith was at least part Cherokee Indian.

Cherokee genealogists say there are no records to support the claim, and Warren has acknowledged she has no proof. DNA tests can detect Native American ancestry but cannot distinguish among tribes. But Oklahoma, where Warren’s family has lived for generations, is the home of the Cherokee Nation.

Bustamante’s six-page report was included as part of the launch of a campaign website showing the “truth” about Warren’s Native American heritage. Warren, who had long rejected calls to submit to a DNA test, also posted a YouTube video featuring her family in Oklahoma discussing the test results.

“My family (including Fox News-watchers) sat together and talked about what they think of @realDonaldTrump’s attacks on our heritage,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “And yes, a famous geneticist analyzed my DNA and concluded that it contains Native American ancestry.”

During her Senate campaign in 2012, Warren was dogged by questions about listing herself as a minority in past professional directories. During his 2016 presidential run, then candidate Trump frequently brought up the issue to discredit Warren, a prominent opponent. He nicknamed her “Pocahontas.”

“She made up her heritage, which I think is racist,” Trump told NBC News in June of that year. “She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud.”

Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump (Photos: Charles Krupa/AP; Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump (Photos: Charles Krupa/AP; Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Trump has continued those attacks as president. At an event honoring the Native American Code Talkers at the White House last fall, Trump revived the “Pocahontas” refrain.

“You were here long before any of us were here — although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago,” Trump said from a podium inside the Oval Office, where he was flanked by Navajo Code Talkers, who served as radiomen in World War II. “They call her ‘Pocahontas.’ But you know what, I like you, because you are special.”

Related: Warren, Cherokees and ‘Pocahontas’: Why it matters

And at a July 5 rally in Montana, Trump went on an extended riff about Warren, saying he would challenge her to a DNA test if she ever became the Democratic nominee.

“I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” Trump said.

Warren, who said she is considering a run for president in 2020, released the results to the Boston Globe, which published them in a front-page story Monday. She cited the findings, and Trump’s pledge, in a tweet directed to the president.

Asked about Warren’s test results by reporters on the South Lawn Monday morning, Trump was dismissive.

“Who cares?” the president said.

Trump also said he never pledged a million dollars to Warren’s charity of choice if she could prove her Native American heritage.

“I didn’t say that,” the president said. “You better read it again.”


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