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

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 (D-Mass.) has privately reached out to the Cherokee Nation to apologize for “causing confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and the harm that has resulted.”

“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.”
—Julie Hubbard, Cherokee Nation

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“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,” Cherokee Nation spokesperson Julie Hubbard told The Intercept, which first reported on Warren’s apology. “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.”

The Cherokee Nation reacted with outrage to Warren’s decision in October to release a six-minute video detailing her DNA test results, which were aimed at demonstrating her claim to Cherokee and Delaware tribal heritage in response to Trump’s repeated racist taunts and name-calling.

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While the Massachusetts senator—who is reportedly set to make her 2020 presidential bid official Feb. 9—has never claimed tribal membership, the Cherokee Nation said in a statement at the time that Warren’s DNA test rollout “undermin[ed] tribal interests.”

“Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr.

“Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong,” Hoskin added. “It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven.”

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