A Technicality at Best


Elizabeth Warren has been a Massachusetts Senator since 2012, and has tackled issues such as Wells Fargo’s illegal banking practices, student loans, and racial inequality. However, she has not escaped controversy as evidenced by Republicans voting that she violated rule 19 (a senate rule of debate preventing interruption) during now Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmation hearings by reading letters stating that “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.” Most recently, Senator Warren claimed that she had Native American Ancestry, and President Donald Trump said “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,” shortly followed by “I have a feeling she will say no.”

On October 16th, Elizabeth Warren released genetic testing showing that she did have Native American Ancestry, however it was also revealed that this amounted to her being 1/64th to 1/1024th Native American, with her nearest Native American relative, based on that relative’s ancestry, living between 6 to 10 generations ago, which places the relative in the 1700s. Elizabeth Warren’s Native American ancestry is so minuscule that most Americans are more closely related than she is.

While Elizabeth Warren may technically have Native American ancestry which fulfills President Trump’s bet that she does not, her claiming that she had ancestors who were Native American while not having a significant connection to any tribe or nation raises the question of whether or not Elizabeth Warren is able to justifiably claim that she is Native American with impunity: in the past, the answer has been yes.

When Elizabeth Warren was a law professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School, she had her ethnicity changed to white, and she did the same thing at Harvard University Law School. However, now Elizabeth Warren has been ridiculed and shamed by the Cherokee Nation after an official stated that her genetic test was “useless” because the tribe measures ancestry through a system called blood quantum which measures a person’s relation to full blooded members of the tribe who were noted by the Federal Government when it was determining how to lower ballooning citizenship in Native American Tribes. The Cherokee Nation also stated that Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry and her usage of her “ancestry” as a political platform undermine tribal interests.

All of this information boils down to this: Elizabeth Warren may technically be of Native American descent, but she has no ancestors with significant Native American heritage throughout the past 6 to 10 generations. Also, prominent Native American groups have ridiculed Elizabeth Warren for attempting to claim Native American descent which suggests that Elizabeth Warren is in the wrong for claiming ancestry.