Call it a 1/1024th apology.
Having resisted calls to apologize for her October DNA test gimmick as recently as December, Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren appears to have seen her polling figures with Indians (and other minorities) and she finally caved.
According to the Intercept and NYT, Senator Warren, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination on a platform of taxing America’s billionaires, and who previously claimed she was of Indian ancestry, has apologized to the Cherokee Nation for her decision to take a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry, a move that the NYT said “had angered some tribal leaders and ignited a significant political backlash.”
It wasn’t clear if in addition to apologizing to the Cherokee Nation, Warren was also apologizing to the rest of the nation.
The apology comes just as Warren is set to formally kick off her presidential run after recent visits to early nominating states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. It also comes after repeated calls for her to apologize from tribal leaders, political operatives, and her own advisers, who said her October decision to take the DNA test “gave undue credence to the controversial claim that race could be determined by blood — and politically, played into President Trump’s hands.”
And so, bury the tomahawk, on Thursday, Warren called Bill John Baker, chief of the Cherokee Nation, to apologize for the DNA test, said Julie Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the tribe. She called it a “brief and private” conversation.
“I understand that she apologized for causing confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and the harm that has resulted,” Ms. Hubbard said. “The chief and secretary of state appreciate that she has reaffirmed that she is not a Cherokee Nation citizen or a citizen of any tribal nation.”
The unexpected apology breaks from Warren’s previous public stance, in which she refused to admit fault and as recently as December she rebuffed calls for an apology; however that changed after Warren’s advisers said she has privately expressed concern that she may have damaged her relationships to Native American groups “and her own standing with activists, particularly those who are racial minorities.”
In other words, her sincere apology was the outcome of careful strategy sessions about how her polling could be affected by the DNA test.
“I put it out there. It’s on the internet for anybody to see,” Ms. Warren said in an interview. “People can make of it what they will. I’m going to continue fighting on the issues that brought me to Washington.”
The apology follows the publication of an opinion collumn by Chuck Hoskin Jr, the secretary of state of the Cherokee Nation, in the Tulsa World on Wednesday titled, “Elizabeth Warren can be a friend, but she isn’t a Cherokee citizen.”
In the column, Hoskin said Warren’s test, which her office said showed strong evidence that Ms. Warren has Native American pedigree “6-10 generations ago,” did not take into account that, for most Native Americans, culture and kinship is what creates tribal membership — not blood, and certainly not 1/1024th thereof.
“This concept of family is key to understanding why citizenship matters,” Mr. Hoskin wrote. “That is why it offends us when some of our national leaders seek to ascribe inappropriately membership or citizenship to themselves. They would be welcome to our table as friends, but claiming to be family to gain a spot at the table is unwelcome.”