When Elizabeth Warren rolled-out her DNA test in October 2018, there was a lot of laughter and mockery because the test revealed that she may be as little as 1/1024th Native American by DNA. Even that finding was suspect given the DNA sample used for comparison was not from North American Indians, so Warren may be 0% Native American.

But it was no joke to actual Native Americans, particularly Cherokee, whose identity Warren had misappropriated for employment purposes as she was climbing the law professor ladder to Harvard Law School.

In fact, there was widespread disgust over the use of DNA to try to prove Native American identity.

The Secretary of State for the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskins, Jr., issued a statement that was widely quoted in the media:

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said. “Sovereign tribal national 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. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. 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. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

There was some pushback that Hoskins didn’t speak for the tribe, and may have gone rogue. But he continued his criticism of Warren:

Warren steadfastly stuck to her story and defended the DNA test, until it because obvious she was damaging her nascent presidential ambitions. So Warren quietly sort-of, not-really, apologized privately to Cherokee leaders, but Warren’s claim to be Native American and the DNA test continue to haunt her campaign.

Hoskin stuck by his criticism even after Warren’s belated apologies, writing on January 31, 2019:

This concept of family is key to understanding why citizenship matters. Everyone who cares about us as natives are welcome, but at critical moments those who have legal and cultural standing have a unique place with specific rights and responsibilities.

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.

In a recent radio appearance, Warren admitted she should not have claimed to be Native American, but she blamed her parents for telling her family lore. (This excuse doesn’t hold up, because Warren didn’t claim to be Native American as a child, teen, or even in college. She only claimed that status quietly for employment purposes starting in her mid-30s.)

Hoskin, who turned the media tables against Warren’s DNA test, was just elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, as this official announcement states:

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission certified the 2019 General Election results that have former Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and District 6 Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner winning the Principal Chief and Deputy Chief races, respectively, during a meeting Monday.

According to the official results, Hoskin, of Vinita, garnered 7,933 of the 13,795 votes, or 57.51 percent of the ballots cast in the Principal Chief race. Tribal Councilor Dick Lay received 3,856 votes, or 27.95 percent. Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick was disqualified as a candidate for Principal Chief prior to the election for campaign finance law violations.

Hoskin is the 18th constitutionally elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in tribal history, and seventh elected Principal Chief in the modern era.

“Being elected your Chief is one of the greatest honors of my life. It is a responsibility that I promise to never take lightly,” Hoskin said. “We have a tremendous foundation, but there is more work to do to improve the livelihood of our people. I pledge to be a voice for all Cherokees and work hard on their behalf to make our great Nation stronger.”

When you compare the dignity of the Cherokee Nation handling of the issue with Warren’s pathetic attempts for many years to justify what she did, it’s obvious why this is still an issue for her.


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