Nearly four months after facing significant backlash for her decision to take a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry, Elizabeth Warren has officially apologized to Cherokee Nation.
While the specifics of the conversation are unclear, Cherokee Nation’s executive director of communications told The Intercept that the Massachusetts senator — who has taken steps toward announcing a 2020 presidential bid — called principal chief Bill John Baker to apologize to the tribe. After Warren’s mid-October release of the six-minute video detailing the “strong evidence” of her Native American ancestry, many have since criticized Warren for what they saw as a direct rebuke to Trump over his disparaging remarks about her native ancestry. Cherokee Nation, too, was quick to condemn Warren, arguing that she was “undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”
However, Warren’s most recent communication has apparently left the tribe feeling optimistic. “Senator Warren has reached out to us and has apologized to the tribe,” Cherokee Nation’s executive director of communications Julie Hubbard told The Intercept. “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. 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.”
In a separate statement to the New York Times, Hubbard divulged that Warren apologized specifically for “causing confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and the harm that has resulted,” and that she “reaffirmed that she is not a Cherokee Nation citizen or a citizen of any tribal nation.”
About a month-and-a-half after releasing the results of her DNA test, Warren reportedly began to privately voice regret over her decision to undergo the racial analysis. Per the Times, she worried that she had damaged her relationships to Native American groups and progressives — a concern that was demonstrably valid. Since mid-October, she has faced criticism for everything from promoting genetic testing, which has been weaponized against minority communities in the United States for centuries, to playing Trump’s game.
In the time since, Warren has taken a number of public steps to correct her mistake, reiterating that she doesn’t claim to be a person of color, nor does she claim citizenship status in any tribe. This call to Cherokee Nation, however, is one of the first reported direct apologies Warren has made regarding the DNA test. Seems like a smart move to make before officially declaring your presidential bid in a little over a week.