Politics

Elizabeth Warren Identified Herself as “American Indian” on a 1986 Form

A Texas Bar registration card reopens the controversy that will never die.


Elizabeth Warren, United States senator from Massachusetts and one of the many Democrats running for president in 2020, speaks at the “Community Conversation about Puerto Rico and its Recovery” held at the Alejandro Tapia y Rivera Theater, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday Jan. 22, 2019. Warren addressed the hardships Puerto Rico has endured in the past two years, particularly its debt crisis and the recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Crack open a Michelob Ultra, because it’s time for the latest chapter of the perma-controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry. Much to the chagrin of the Massachusetts senator and 2020 hopeful, she’s apologizing—again—for identifying as Native American early in her career. This time, it’s because of her 1986 Texas Bar registration card.

The card, attained by the Washington Post in an open records request and seen widely for the first time, shows “American Indian” confidently written in Warren’s own handwriting, all caps, beside the field for “race.”

Warren’s spokesperson, Kristen Orthman, issued a statement this morning in apology.

“As Senator Warren has said she is not a citizen of any tribe and only tribes determine tribal citizenship. She is sorry that she was not more mindful of this earlier in her career.”

Warren’s political career has been haunted by opponents who accuse her of fraudulently claiming native ancestry for professional advantage—although reporting has found there’s no proof her ethnicity has influenced her rise in academia or politics (Harvard faculty considered her a white woman when they voted to hire her, for example).

An aide pointed out to CNN that this most recent evidence was a registration card for the Bar Association, filled out after she had already passed the test with presumably no help from her self-identified racial identity.

However, this card raises the question of how many more undiscovered documents like this might surface over the course of Warren’s imminent presidential campaign.

The president is one of her most dogged critics, dubbing her “Pocahontas” and, because this is normal now, tweeting memes at her.

The senator took a DNA test in October in hopes of silencing her haters, which came back showing that Warren’s closest Native American relative is an estimated eight generations back. It only added fuel to the fire. After backlash to her decision to announce the results, Warren apparently called Cherokee leaders to apologize for mistaking DNA for a viable indicator of heritage, rather than tribal citizenship.

The report surfaces four days before the Massachusetts senator is expected to announce her presidential campaign on February 9 in Lawrence