One month after she announced that she would be running for president in 2020, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren apologized for taking a DNA test to identify her Native American ancestry. According to The New York Times, Warren made a call on Thursday to Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, to formally issue an apology.
Bustle has reached out to both Warren and the Cherokee Nation for comment.
Since he ran for president in 2016, President Donald Trump has routinely attacked Warren for her claim to Native American heritage and referred to the senator as "Pocahontas." Trump and other Republicans have also suggested that Warren's ancestry claim was done in order to get ahead in her career. Following Trump's numerous attacks, Warren took a DNA test back in October that identified distant Native American ancestry, per The Intercept.
Warren's decision to take a DNA test prompted mixed reactions from different tribes and indigenous communities. Some tribal leaders, like Richard Sneed, the principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians — not to be confused with the Cherokee Nation — told HuffPost that the backlash against Warren's DNA test was "media fodder" and sensationalism." Sneed also described Warren as "a friend to tribes."
Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., however, criticized Warren in a statement for "undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage."
"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 said at the time.
Following Warren's Thursday call with Baker, Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Julie Hubbard told The Intercept that Warren had indeed "apologized to the tribe."
“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," Hubbard reportedly said. "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.”
Warren previously stood by her decision to take a DNA test, per The New York Times, arguing that she merely wanted to be transparent. She declined to publicly second-guess her choice, and said that she would continue fighting for the issues she cared about despite the backlash she faced. At a rally last month, however, Warren acknowledged that she is "not a person of color."
“I am not a citizen of a tribe," Warren said. "Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry. Tribes — and only tribes — determine tribal citizenship, and I respect that difference.”
After Warren issued her apology this week, Hubbard told The New York Times that she and the Cherokee Nation appreciated Warren's clarification that ancestry and tribal citizenship are distinct.
“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.”
Warren is currently one of four Democratic senators who have announced their bids for the presidency in 2020, according to NPR; she is joined by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, New York Sen Kirsten Gillibrand, and California Sen. Kamala Harris.