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Cherokee Nation Welcomes Warren's Apology for 'Confusion' and 'Harm' Caused by DNA Test Rollout

Cherokee Nation Welcomes Warren's Apology for 'Confusion' and 'Harm' Caused by DNA Test Rollout

Jake Johnson, staff writer

Months after sparking outrage from indigenous tribes by releasing DNA test results to confirm her Native American ancestry and debunk President Donald Trump's racist attacks, Sen.

Elizabeth Warren should be entitled to investigate her heritage just like anyone else. This is a big to do about nothing. That she is part Native American is interesting, but not consequential. My wife has been looking into her ancestry and I don’t think she owes an apology to any ethnic group that has contributed to her DNA. This does not qualify as news, in my opinion.


After Sen. Warren’s apology, he Cherokee Nation said they hoped that “the slurs and mockery of tribal citizens, Indian history and heritage will now come to an end.” Certainly any person of conscience would echo the Cherokee Nation’s hopes. However, NONE of those things–“slurs and mockery” ever came from Elizabeth Warren.
It is DONALD J. TRUMP who’s engaged in ongoing slurs and mockery, by using the name “Pocohantas” to refer to Warren. Perhaps, the most hideous of Trump’s “mockeries” was at a White House ceremony intended to honor Native American WWII veterans (the “Code Talkers” who played a decisive role in the Pacific campaign of that war), where Trump yet AGAIN, used that name as a slur for Warren===and also did so under a painting of President Andrew Jackson, known as “The Indian Killer”. Sports teams from high school to professionals that call themselves “Chiefs” or the abominable “Redskins” and have cartoonish caracatures of Indigenous people as “mascots” are ongoing slurs against Indigenous peoples. The NFL teach in Washington, DC is the most abhorrent example of a stubborn refusal to behave in the most basic respect and civility towards American Indian people. (If one thinks “Redskins” is a term of respect, one needs to recognize it’s like “nigger” for American Indians: imagine your local sports team calling itself the “Anytown Niggers” and what the reaction would be.)
Finally, the continued assault on Native Americans/Indigenous people’s treaty rights and sovereignty by extractive industries—currently most well known are oil pipelines—aided and abetted by local, State and Federal government law enforcement goes beyond “slurs and mockery” to doing deliberate harm to tribal nations’ self-determination, treaty rights, water, land and public health–most recently at STANDING ROCK.

ALL of these are serious issues. That Sen. Elizabeth Warren explored DNA testing to find out the truth of “family history” she’d been told all her life is a PERSONAL matter that INSULTS NO ONE. I have to wonder WHY the Cherokee Nation would focus on such a TRIVIALITY–when there are so many deeply wrong and SERIOUS ASSAULTS on both the culture, treaty rights, economic development, environment and public health of Indigenous peoples

And WHY have they NOT focused their anger at DONALD TRUMP----who regularly engages in the “slurs and mockery” they are so insulted by?


I didn’t get the outrage by Cherokee Nation, either. Elizabeth Warren, bless her, is a “wonk,” a “nerd.” From a different time period, but make no mistake, nerds walked the earth then, too (they didn’t just appear on the scene in the last generation or so). Meaning, she approaches issues in a very rational, logic-based way. She wasn’t trying to say she was a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Trump was racist-mocking a passing reference she made to family oral history, which is not unusual, to my understanding, for people with long-standing New England roots (i.e. there can be Native American ancestry very far back). But he was also saying that she was lying. So, I don’t see how (a) her passing reference was offensive or (b) her DNA test - which is pure “wonk” - i.e. “You say I’m liar, so I’ll prove step-by-step (almost mathematically) that I’m not.”

Also, a lot of people are getting DNA tests these days, and I think it’s interesting. For example, a number of “whites,” I’ve read, are finding out they’re genetically more African American and they never knew they had any African American ancestry at all. The people who have shared these stories of self-discovery are not racist - but I think it’s good for racists who hear these stories to see that their views are fundamentally flawed - in terms of the scientific reality of who and what all of us are.