News and Commentary

Warren Faces Ancestry Question At Town Hall: ‘I Shouldn’t Have Done It. I Am Not A Person Of Color’
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to the media in the spin room following the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Friday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) held a town hall-style event at a bowling alley in Petersborough, New Hampshire.

During the event, one woman asked Warren the following question about her ancestry: “What do I say to my native american relatives regarding the confusion around the native american ancestry issue?”

Warren replied:

I grew up in Oklahoma, and my three older brothers and I learned about our family [the] same way most people do – from our mom and from our dad. My family’s very important to me, and that’s why many years ago I sometimes identified as Native American.

Boston Globe did a big investigation about this, gosh, what about a year and a half ago, never had anything to do with any job I ever got or any benefit.

But even so, I shouldn’t have done it. I am not a person of color; I am not a citizen of a tribe; and I have apologized for confusion I’ve caused on tribal citizenship, tribal sovereignty, and for any harm that I’ve caused.

Sen. Warren has been dogged by the question regarding her ancestry for years. Even President Trump took to calling the senator “Pocahontas,” and dared her to take a DNA test.

In October 2018, Warren released a video in which she spoke with Stanford Professor Carlos D. Bustamante, who had conducted a DNA analysis on the senator in order to get to the bottom of the heritage question.

According to Bustamante, who “used samples from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to stand in for Native American” due to a lack of available DNA from verified Native Americans, reports The Boston Globe, Warren had a Native American ancestor “in the range of 6-10 generations ago.”

Warren’s DNA test stunt troubled some in the Native American community.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said that the use of “a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong … dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is [proven].”

Warren allegedly reached out an apologized, after which Hoskins stated: “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.”

In February, Cherokee Nation citizen Rebecca Nagle dragged Warren, stating in part:

Warren has zero Cherokee ancestry. Genealogists in 2012 did her genealogy. That’s what Cherokee genealogists do when somebody claims to be Cherokee … [Warren] comes from a line of very well-documented white people, going back to before the Trail of Tears…

There are over forty-five rolls of Cherokee people between the 1810s and the 1910s, and Cherokee genealogists went [and] looked up Warren’s family tree and then crossed-referenced her relatives with those forty-five rolls and looked for them, and they’re not there. So there is no evidence that she has a single Cherokee ancestor. The only evidence she has is this race-based science of a DNA test which you cannot use to lay claim to any tribe or any relationship to any tribe, and people don’t know that.

Warren’s troubles have continued. In February, The Washington Post uncovered the senator’s 1986 “registration card for the State Bar of Texas.” On the card, Warren lists her race as “American Indian.”

“The Texas bar registration card is significant, among other reasons, because it removes any doubt that Warren directly claimed the identity,” wrote Annie Linskey and Amy Gardner.

The Washington Post adds that “there’s no indication Warren had anything to gain by reporting herself as Native American on the Texas bar card.”

As The Daily Wire previously reported, The Washington Post article notes that from 1986 to 1995, Warren listed herself as a “minority” in the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) directory. Additionally, from 1995 to 2004, Harvard Law School reportedly listed Warren as Native American on forms relating to affirmative action.

The Harvard Law School listing allegedly began well after Warren had been hired. Additionally, according to the outlet, Warren’s ethnicity listing at the University of Pennsylvania changed to “Native American” in December of 1989, two years after being hired.

Warren was even asked when she knew she wasn’t Native American during an appearance on “The Breakfast Club” in May, co-hosted by Charlamagne tha God.

“How long did you hold onto that?” he asked, noting the Texas Bar registration card. “Why’d you do that?”

Warren replied: “You know, so, it’s what I believed. Like I said, it’s what I learned from my family.”

Charlamagne tha God didn’t appear satisfied, asking: “When did you find out you weren’t?”

Warren stumbled. “Well, it’s, I’m not a person of color. I’m not a citizen of a tribe – and tribal citizenship is an important distinction.”

Despite all this mess, Warren is still seen by many progressives as a possible lock for the Democratic nomination. However, recent polling out of Iowa and New Hampshire (the first two primary/caucus states) show Warren falling, and rival Pete Buttigieg rising.

According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Warren currently sits in third place in Iowa with 17.7% of the vote. Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) rank first and second with 24% and 18.3%, respectively.

In New Hampshire, Warren faces almost identical problems, coming in third place with 14.3%, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Once again, Buttigieg and Sanders have taken first and second place with 20% and 17%, respectively.

In Nevada, Warren is behind Former Vice President Joe Biden by nine points, and in South Carolina, the senator is a whopping 19% down on Biden. In North Carolina (though the polling there is not as fresh), Warren falls 17% below Biden.

Warren sits atop the polls in only two states for which RealClearPolitics is keeping tabs. In California, which will hold its primary on Super Tuesday (March 3, 2020), Warren currently captures 21.5% support to Biden’s 21.3% support. In Massachusetts, the state from which Warren hails as a senator, Warren has 28.5% to second place Biden’s 22%.

Warren has also taken a dive in national polling.

Following a brief rise in October and early-November during which time she threatened to take the top spot from Biden, Warren has tumbled back down to third place. As of publication, Warren sits at 14.2% support in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Behind Biden at 27.8% and Sanders at 15.6%.