Elizabeth Warren to Cherokee Nation: I’m Sorry about the DNA Test

She reportedly called tribal leaders to apologize.

elizabeth warren

2016 photo via AP

Three months after she publicly shared the results of a DNA test as proof she had a Native American ancestor, and a few days before a big announcement on her 2020 run, Elizabeth Warren has reportedly apologized to the Cherokee Nation.

Tribal leaders say Warren has been in touch to express her regret about the decision, which has widely been considered the first major misstep of her 2020 candidacy. Prominent Native Americans had criticized the move for its reliance on DNA technology, which many tribes reject on principle and say inappropriately links tribal status to a person’s genes.

“Senator Warren has reached out to us and has apologized to the tribe,” Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Julie Hubbard says in a statement first reported by The Intercept. “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. 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.”

The New York Times reports Warren called Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, on Thursday. Warren’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news comes as Warren’s campaign has said she will make a major announcement on February 9, widely expected to be the formal launch of her campaign (right now it’s technically an “exploratory committee”).

Among all the reasons the DNA test might have been a bad idea, it definitely did not succeed at making the issue disappear. Trump has not backed down from his obsession with the question of Warren’s Native status, and relishes bringing it up and referring to her by the intentionally offensive nickname “Pocahontas,” even though tribal leaders have pleaded with him to stop. Recent Trump tweets on the subject include a “1/2020th” meme that mocked her relatively small portion of Native blood, as well as another suggesting she give a speech “from Bighorn or Wounded Knee.”

Howard Schultz, the billionaire and former Starbuck’s CEO who is mulling a run for president as an independent, sparked controversy after he shared and then deleted an article on Twitter that referred to Warren as “Fauxcahontas.”