Feb 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

More than 200 Native Americans urge Elizabeth Warren to fully retract ancestry claims

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

More than 200 Native Americans signed a letter asking Elizabeth Warren to fully retract her claims of Native American ancestry, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: The authors, who include prominent activists like Daniel Heath Justice and Rebecca Nagle, write that her actions "have normalized white people claiming to be Native, and perpetuated a dangerous misunderstanding of tribal sovereignty."

The backdrop: Warren had long claimed that Cherokee ancestry was a part of her family's history and listed her race as "American Indian" on her registration card for the Texas bar in 1986.

  • After people contested the claims, the Massachusetts senator took a DNA test, which indicated that she is between 1/32 and 1/1,024 Native American.
  • An earlier Boston Globe analysis found that her ancestry was never a consideration during the hiring process at Harvard Law School, where she worked as a professor, or throughout her rise in the legal profession.

What they're saying: Warren sent a 12-page response to the predominately Cherokee authors on Tuesday night to both apologize and detail her plan to protect tribal lands and support Native Americans if elected president.

  • "I am not a person of color; I am a white woman, and that is how I identify. In addition, I am not a tribal citizen. Tribal Nations — and only Tribal Nations — determine tribal citizenship. It’s their right as a matter of sovereignty, and they exercise that in the ways they choose to exercise it," she wrote.

Read the letters:

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