Elizabeth Warren Releases DNA Test Results In Response To Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ Line

Elizabeth Warren has released a DNA report showing that she does indeed have some Native American heritage in her family's past. That won't stop conservatives from continuing to attack her, though.

When Elizabeth Warren first entered the political arena in 2012 in her ultimately successful challenge to Scott Brown for the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, she quickly became the focus of attacks by conservatives not only in Massachusetts but also nationwide. To a large degree, these attacks were rooted in Warren’s full-throated advocacy of a “progressive” economic agenda that was significantly to the left of where the Obama Administration and most of the Democratic Party stood at the time, and which in many respects was a precursor to the surprising success that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders enjoyed during the battle for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Prior to running for office, Warren had been involved with the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been the target of particular ire on the right, as well as being a Law Professor at Harvard University since at least 1995.

In addition to attacking her because of her ideas, though, conservatives made the seemingly odd but nonetheless telling choice of attacking Warren based on her ethnicity and what conservatives said was the false claim on her part that she has Native-American heritage, something she said was a matter of family folklore. The attack on Warren on this issue was really two-pronged. On the one hand, conservatives argued that Warren was lying about her claim to have any Native American heritage at all, and thus began referring to her with the term “Fauxcohontas” or, as President Trump has turned it into, “Pocahontas.” Exactly how they would know for sure it’s a lie was always unclear, but it was nonetheless repeated as gospel by many on the right as if it had been medically verified. The second prong of the attack was the claim that Warren somehow used her claim to be part Native American to benefit from Affirmative Action hiring practices at Harvard Law School, an assertion which has largely been debunked, as reports from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, including a follow-up reportPolitifact, FactCheck, and The Boston Globe have all made clear.

In any case, conservatives persist in bringing up the “Fauxcohontas”/”Pocahontas” smear, and Warren has finally responded by releasing a DNA test that demonstrates that she does indeed appear to have at least some Native American heritage in her family’s past:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren released results of DNA test on Monday that “strongly support” her claims of Native American ancestry, over which she has been mocked by President Donald Trump and his supporters.

The DNA test, conducted by Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamante, showed Warren’s likely Native American ancestry dates back six to 10 generations.

The release of the results were part of a rollout from Warren’s campaign showcasing her heritage while offering evidence that she did not benefit professionally from it. She was hired as an educator, Warren argued, because “she was an award-winning legal scholar and professor.”

In a video posted to her website, multiple professors involved in hiring Warren at various points in her career said her claimed Native American heritage played no role in their decisions to offer her a job.

Trump and others have suggested that Warren played up or invented her Native American ancestry for professional gain. The president has often derisively referred to Warren as “Pocahontas.”

More from The Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a DNA test that provides “strong evidence” she had a Native American in her family tree dating back 6 to 10 generations, an unprecedented move by one of the top possible contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

Warren, whose claims to Native American blood have been mocked by President Trump and other Republicans, provided the test results to the Globe on Sunday in an effort to defuse questions about her ancestry that have persisted for years. She planned an elaborate rollout Monday of the results as she aimed for widespread attention.

The analysis of Warren’s DNA was done by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor and expert in the field who won a 2010 MacArthur fellowship, also known as a genius grant, for his work on tracking population migration via DNA analysis.

He concluded that “the vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, but he added that “the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor.”

Bustamante calculated that Warren’s pure Native American ancestor appears in her family tree “in the range of 6-10 generations ago.” That timing fits Warren’s family lore, passed down during her Oklahoma upbringing, that her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was at least partially Native American.

Smith was born in the late 1700s. She identified as white in historical documents, though at the time Indians faced discrimination, and Smith would have had strong incentives to call herself white if possible.

The inherent imprecision of the six-page DNA analysis could provide fodder for Warren’s critics. If her great-great-great-grandmother was Native American, that puts her at 1/32nd American Indian. But the report includes the possibility that she’s just 1/512th Native American if the ancestor is 10 generations back.

Undergoing the test and releasing the results reveal how seriously Warren is taking the attacks from Trump, who has been able to effectively caricature and diminish his national foes via nicknames and conspiracy theories. Trump pushed then President Barack Obama into releasing the long form of his birth certificate to prove what most knew was already true: He was born in America.

The move is also another indication of how seriously Warren is considering running for president. And while it’s unclear whether the test will convince Trump and his die-hard supporters, Warren will be able to point to it with other, more open-minded voters. Once Obama produced his birth certificate in 2011, the racist “birther” movement, which thrived on the Internet and was stoked by Trump, largely evaporated.


By taking a DNA test, Warren is showing that if she runs for president, she plans to be a very different candidate than Hillary Clinton was. The 2016 Democratic nominee for president chafed at releasing personal information and was dogged throughout her campaign by her use of a private server while she was secretary of state.

Warren provided a sample of her DNA to a private lab in Georgia in August, according to one of the senator’s aides. The data from that test was sent to Bustamante and his team for analysis. Warren received the report last week.

Warren didn’t use a commercial service, but Bustamante is on the scientific advisory board for Ancestry, which provides commercial DNA tests. He’s also consulted on a project for 23andMe, another major DNA testing company.

Warren said she was committed to releasing the report regardless of the results. However, Warren’s aides would not say whether she or any of her three siblings had previously done a commercial DNA test that would have provided them with some assurance about Bustamante’s analysis.

There were five parts of Warren’s DNA that signaled she had a Native American ancestor, according to the report. The largest piece of Native American DNA was found on her 10th chromosome, according to the report. Each human has 23 pairs of chromosomes.

“It really stood out,” said Bustamante in an interview. “We found five segments, and that long segment was pretty significant. It tells us about one ancestor, and we can’t rule out more ancestors.”

He added: “We are confident it is not an error.”

On some level, of course, this entire controversy is quite simply idiotic. To the extent there was a legitimate issue here, it was the question of whether or not Warren had falsely claimed minority status when seeking employment as a Law Professor at the University of Pennsylvania or Harvard Law School. As the reports linked above show, though, there is absolutely no evidence to support these claims, so the issue should have died then and there. For conservatives, though, it has never ended and it is unlikely that this report will satisfy them. They’ll continue using the “Fauxcahontas”/”Pocahontas” slur because it’s something that works with the base. That is made clear just by perusing the posts that have gone up about this story at sites such as Breitbart, Red State, The Washington Free Beacon, The FederalistThe Gateway Pundit, Twitchy, and Hot Air. What’s clear, though, is that it doesn’t seem to matter to the average voter. Warren dispatched of Scott Brown easily six years ago and is well-positioned to beat her Republican opponent again this year. Yes, Massachusetts is a Democratic state but it’s clear from these results that most people simply don’t care about Elizabeth Warren’s DNA.

This move on Warren’s part is interesting mostly because it comes in the context of the news last week that the Senator said that she was not ruling out the idea of running for President in 2020 and that she would make a decision in that regard after the election. What this move on her part shows is that, if she does run, Warren doesn’t intend to sit back and let President Trump or any of her potential Democratic opponents attack her on this or any other issue. Obviously, these results are not going to satisfy anyone who is already inclined to vote against her, but I’m sure she already realized that. Additionally, I tend to doubt that they’ll prove to be decisive as far as the average voter is concerned. As for conservatives, as I said, they will reject the findings out of hand, or seek to dismiss them for one reason or another, something that is already apparent  In any case, if this faux controversy regarding Warren’s heritage is all that conservatives have against her, and based on the amount of time they spend talking about it that does seem to be the case at times, then they really must be afraid of her. Come after her based on her ideas and let the argument lead where it might. Concentrating on something as trivial as this is utterly childish and ridiculous. But then, that defines “conservatism” in the era of Trump, doesn’t it?

Upfate:James Joyner argues that Warren’s attempt to address this issue will backfire. As I note in a comment to that post, I tend to disagree.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2018 Election, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jen says:

    It is certainly ridiculous. As noted, once it was clear that she hadn’t attempted to use ancestry as a way to access minority status in hiring, it should have stopped.

    But, as per usual, Trump took things far enough that he couldn’t walk it back. He called on HER to take a DNA test–which, frankly any of his advisers should have pushed back against. Most people who can trace family lineage in the US back to the early 1800s most likely have some Native American ancestry. (We do, and it’s roughly the same number of generations back, around 7 generations–it’s minuscule, and a fun-to-know item but that’s it.) It was a silly thing for him to challenge her on.

    “they will reject the findings out of hand, or seek to dismiss them for one reason or another, something that is already apparent”

    Yep! Kelly Ann Conway is calling DNA testing “junk science” and Trump is claiming he never made the $1 million donation offer (he did, it’s on video). Conservatives on Twitter are going the route of saying “she’s not Indian”–she didn’t claim she was, she, to my knowledge has always said she has Native *ancestry*. Oh well.

  2. Jen says:

    Now, we just need to ask how Trump will respond to this news, that Majority Leader McCarthy’s family claimed Native American ancestry to access no-bid government contracts.

    Spoiler alert: There do not seem to be any Native American links turning up in his family tree. Quelle surprise.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Concentrating on something as trivial as this is utterly childish and ridiculous. But then, that defines “conservatism” in the era of Trump, doesn’t it?

    Indeed it does Doug, indeed it does.

    And just want to note, trump still hasn’t released his tax returns, which lead to the utterly ridiculous position of knowing more about Senator Warrens heritage then we know of trump’s business practices.

    Which is more relevant?

  4. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jake: 45*’s challenge was to prove she had Native American ancestry. She does. She never claimed to be a member of a tribe. Nice goalpost moving, but the takeaway here is that most will read the relevant headline, say, “Oh, she does have NA ancestry,” and move on.

  5. Jen says:

    @Jake: Goalpost moving.

    She has not attempted to claim tribal participation. She has claimed tribal ancestry.

    Those are two different things.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jake: Funny how I’ve read that in several locations and how she has never claimed otherwise or applied to a tribe. All she has ever said was that her grandmother told and her siblings they had a Native American ancestor and that she took that as fact. And it is now a proven fact. Funny how the right keeps ignoring that.

    PS, talking to a couple of Okies it seems that nearly everyone in OK claims to have some NA ancestry and due to the history of OK most of them do and also that very few of them ever apply for tribal membership. Just like Warren.

  7. al Ameda says:


    Elizabeth Warren’s test fails to meet the standard required for claiming Native American tribal ancestry
    Funny how the media reports forgot to mention this part

    I understand, you’re both disappointed and embarrassed.
    Don’t despair, call (800) 561-0415, start to deal with this problem.

  8. Kathy says:

    There’s a bit of misunderstanding about commercial DNA tests (which I note is not the type of test Warren had done). They don’t find ancestry as much as common genes with current populations in other areas, and then only of those people whose genomes have been sequenced.

    DNA has been extracted, and sequenced, from ancient human remains, even from Neanderthal remains, which precede human civilization. But there simply isn’t enough “ancestral” DNA to make for a data base to check current genomes against.

    That said, you can find out the percentage of Neanderthal genetic material in your genome, which is interesting but ultimately pointless. There are genes which are found in other species, though not in identical form. These can serve to determine the genetic relationship between humans and, say, chimps, dogs, or corn.

    Such things can tell you how long ago a species diverted from another, or when they had a common ancestor. Naturally humans and chimps had a common ancestor only a few millions of years ago, but plants and animals diverged a much longer while ago.

    Finally, I like this line from Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything:”

    “DNA’s purpose is to make more DNA, and that’s the reason you’re alive today.”

  9. Lynn says:

    @Jake: “Elizabeth Warren’s test fails to meet the standard required for claiming Native American tribal ancestry”

    She never claimed to meet criteria for tribal membership; she simple stated that, according to family lore, she had Native American ancestry. The DNA test seems to support that.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:


    “DNA’s purpose is to make more DNA, and that’s the reason you’re alive today.”

    I pointed out once that at the genetic level, not having children means one has a failed gene line. You’d have thought I called people who choose not to have children Nazi, child raping cannibals.

  11. Mikey says:

    Trump’s coming up with a bunch of lame dodges and inane excuses to avoid doing what he pledged on video to do?

    This is my surprised face. 😐

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Gateway Pundit? Seriously?

  13. Hal_10000 says:


    Trump is claiming he never made the $1 million donation offer (he did, it’s on video).

    To be fair to Trump, he said it was something he would do if she were his opponent in 2020.

    I never understood why this was such a big deal to the GOP. Warren’s stance on issues is much more concerning to me than any real or pretend NA ancestry.

  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This entire thing is just so fvcking idiotic I can barely stand it.
    But the fact is that the POTUS, who has long used this against her in an overtly racist manner, dared her to prove her ancestry and put up $1M against it. Now Dennison is welching on his bet. He is a racist who doesn’t pay his debts.
    The entire episode tells us far, far, more about him than her.

  15. rachel says:

    @Jake: LOL, Gateway “Pundit”.

  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The other thing that is fvcked up about this; why did Warren have to put this out now?
    This meaningless story is going to steal all the bandwidth for a day or two, with only three weeks to the mid-terms. Instead we should be talking about how Dennison’s tariffs are screwing the working class, how his tax cuts didn’t help them, how his health care moves are hurting them, how his policies are driving inflation which is hurting them, and how his foreign policy is making all of us less safe. We should be talking about all of those things and how the supine Republicans in Congress need to be booted out so someone can actually undertake some oversight of this incompetent buffoon.
    We don’t need to be talking about whether Warren is 1/2000th Native American.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Speaking only for myself, I can talk about all those things and still have enough energy to make a snarky comment or 2 about this.

  18. Kylopod says:


    I never understood why this was such a big deal to the GOP.

    Because it’s what the GOP always does, and has done for the past several decades, play the race card while wrapping themselves in some thinly veiled excuse to give them plausible deniability: Go to the town of the infamous Klan lynching and talk about “states’ rights.” Run ads about Willie Horton. Visit Bob Jones University. Describe Obama as the “food stamp president.” Refuse to disavow David Duke by claiming never to have heard of him.

    This is just the latest example (though it actually goes back to Scott Brown’s 2012 campaign). When Trump refers to Warren as “Pocahontas,” it’s just old-fashioned racism dressed up as an attempt to expose and mock Warren for alleged racial fraud on her part.

    If you thought the GOP had any interest in sticking to issues instead of fear-mongering over some perceived “other,” just where have you been for the past half-century?

  19. Franklin says:

    The only reason this is even a story is because Trump is a know-nothing idiot who said something idiotic about something he knew nothing about. But then, we already knew that.

  20. wr says:

    @Jake: You are allowed two words on this subject: “I apologize.”

    You have lied and smeared and repeated obviously fraudulent accusations. And now when all of it is proved to be a lie, you writhe around in your own filth and try to pretend that what you said was really something different that has not already been proved a lie.

    Give it up, you lying sack of crap. Just say these two simple words: “I apologize.”

    Or get the hell off this site, since everyone here now has proof that every word you type is a lie.

  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Yeah…of course…I was referring to the national conversation.

  22. Mikey says:


    I never understood why this was such a big deal to the GOP.

    Because they wanted to spread the false narrative that Warren somehow benefited from her claim of Native American ancestry, which would feed into their hatred of affirmative action in general.

    The thinly-veiled racism was a bonus, too.

    It has since been proven Warren did not benefit one bit from her claim, and now we know she does in fact have some Native American ancestry.

  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I really think the far more interesting story is the “Dogs Playing Poker” type painting Dennison has hung on the Oval Office wall. There are lines of coke on the table and Dennison is shown at least 100# trimmer than he really is. But his hand is correctly depicted; it is very tiny.
    This painting is more realistic…

  24. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    The other thing that is fvcked up about this; why did Warren have to put this out now?

    I suppose because she’s running for reelection, and intends to run for president in 2020.

    On other news, every last human on Earth can trace their ancestry back to Africa.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: OK, if I came across too sharp, my apologies. I’ve been at Balloon Juice this morn and sometimes the chicken littles get to be overmuch.

  26. liberal capitalist says:


    To be fair to Trump, he said it was something he would do if she were his opponent in 2020.

    uh… no.

    During a campaign rally on July 5, Trump taunted Warren for her claims of Native American ancestry, a staple of his campaign stump speeches.

    “I will give you a million dollars, to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” Trump said at the time. “I have a feeling she will say ‘no.’ ”

    source: https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/411414-trump-denies-offering-1-million-for-warren-dna-test-even-though-he

    Another broken campaign promise to his klan followers

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:


    On other news, every last human on Earth can trace their ancestry back to Africa.

    Say WHAT????!?!?!!!!!????? Boy is Richard Spencer going to be disappointed.

  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @liberal capitalist:
    Hal is right about this…if you listen to the idiot at the Hill link you provided…he sets it up as something he would do if he was debating Warren.
    A lot of people have been editing that portion out…which renders it misleading.

  29. Franklin says:

    Maybe Trump could just contribute that million bucks for the wall that Mexico’s not going to pay for. That should get us a good 200 feet of fence, probably enough to slow the invasion of one coterie of dangerous prairie dogs.

  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    I suppose because she’s running for reelection, and intends to run for president in 2020

    Of course…but she should have waited until after the mid-terms. It’s a distraction from the current races. If Dems don’t take, at least, the House there may not be a 2020 election for her to run in.

  31. gVOR08 says:

    It’ll play out like Obama’s birth certificate. No one in the reality based world cared in the first place and no one in the GOP base will be dissuaded by facts.

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jake: Keep swinging at those fences, maybe some day you’ll connect and foul out instead of repeatedly striking out.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Donna Simmons: Head? Meet desk.

  34. Kathy says:


    Say WHAT????!?!?!!!!!????? Boy is Richard Spencer going to be disappointed.

    Should I mention all the first humans, as well as their immediate ancestors, had dark skin?

  35. Jen says:


    Elizabeth Warren claimed she was a minority “Native American” to get ahead in her career.

    This has been pretty thoroughly examined, and no she did not. Rather oddly, the two times her Native American heritage was noted on records, it was changed *after* she had been working in those jobs for a while.

    Elizabeth Warren released a DNA study today that claims she is 1/512th Native American.

    […] began to fall apart quickly when the AP had to make an embarrassing correction.

    The DNA test revealed that Elizabeth Warren is not 1/512 Native American, she’s 1/1,024. That’s 0.0009765625.

    1/1024 > 0. Trump said 0.

    Most tribes require percentage of Native blood at least 1/16th to claim Native American heritage. Warren specifically claimed to be Cherokee; the DNA test did not prove this to be true.

    She has not now, nor ever has, sought official tribal recognition which is what the blood test is used for. And no, the DNA test cannot ever prove down to a specific tribe–anyone who has ever read anything about DNA tests should know that. Determining Native American ancestry is notoriously difficult because of the small numbers (which is what happens when 90% of a population is wiped out in short order because of smallpox).

    @Donna Simmons:

    Let’s see her application documents.

    Check the Boston Globe article linked to in the above comment by Mikey.

    So the accusation of fraud is credible. Doesn’t that deserve a full investigation?

    No it is not credible, and it HAS been investigated. By many, many journalists, including a very lengthy investigation by the Boston Globe.

    Also, Jake, please stop linking to Gateway Pundit, that’s just not a credible or useful source.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: No! Next you’ll be telling me Jesus was most likely very darkly complected!

  37. Franklin says:

    @Jake: Seriously, it would probably help if you started out with the factual findings (hint: use a real news source).

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Donna Simmons: No she didn’t. She’s never claimed to fall in the class eligible as a “Native American.” (Which is either 1/32 or 1/16 IIRC). Your claim has been totally debunked.

    But you keep filling your mind with the lies posted on Gateway Pundit and the other lying sites on the right. Because you have no desire to find out what the truth is, rather than what pleases you.

  39. KM says:

    @Donna Simmons :

    She’s also less Native American than your average european-american.

    Based on?

    I mean, we’ve all heard stories about out and proud white nationalists taking DNA tests only to find out they’re not so lily white or even have *gasp* Jewish ancestry. But seriously, someone calling themselves “European-American” is:
    (1) most likely has no idea where their family truly hails from and is just assuming they are “white” and thus “European”. Ancestry tests were MADE for people like this who “know”they’re German and want to find their roots…. only to discover they’re Italian because their ancestors lied to be socially acceptable (they even did a commercial on it, it happens so often!)
    (2) ignorant AF about how “white” was traditionally classified since Irish, Italian, Polish, Slav, Eastern Europeans, and several Mediterranean nationalities never counted back then. There were a lot of pale skinned not-whites not too long ago…..
    (3) treating Europe like one big interchangeable nation when Europeans are VERY clear about differing nationalities. That’s like calling a Texan a Yankee because “we’re all American, right?”

    Beside Kellyanne just called DNA testing junk science so how can you *really* know how much Native blood you have? What woo were you reading that gave you that nugget of wisdom?

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: it’s a novelty sidebar story. It doesn’t matter. It sucks up the air from some other novelty sidebar story.

  41. Gustopher says:

    @Jake: in the words of Rep. Joe Wilson, “YOU LIE!”

  42. John430 says:

    @Jen: A i/1024 chance of ancestry makes her of Indian heritage? Gimme a break. My DNA shows my ancestors left Egypt about 50,000 years ago, passed thru Mesopotamia into E. Europe and finally wound up in Ireland. I am 73% Irish, 19% English and the rest is a smattering labeled “Western Europe”. I don’t claim to be Egyptian. Her claiming such a miniscule degree of Indian is Bulls**t. Fauxcahontas she is and Fauxcahontas she remains. She may, however, be the faux-sister of Rachel Dolezal who now goes about as Nkechi Amare Diallo. Next week, Warren may announce she self-identifies herself as a man.

  43. Monala says:

    @Jen: According to my Ancestry DNA results, I have 0% Native American ancestry, despite being able to trace my ancestors to early 1800s America and having grown up hearing that I was part Native American. However…

    The Native American ancestry we supposedly had was through my paternal grandmother, who was orphaned at a young age and raised by distant relatives. In my family tree, hers is the one line I can’t trace back farther, because I don’t know the names of her parents. My siblings and I have speculated that the reason family lore claimed my grandmother was part Native American is because it was safer in the early 1900s in the South than admitting what she probably actually was: half black and half white.

    So my Ancestry DNA shows all of my genes as being either African or European. And it’s amazing how I’ve been able to confirm the accuracy of family lore about all other lines in my family tree, except for my paternal grandmother.

  44. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: @rachel:

    Not just Gateway Pundit, but Jack Posobiec. Yes, that Jack Posobiec – Pizzagate, Seth Rich, neo-Nazi Jack Posobiec.

  45. Kylopod says:


    A i/1024 chance of ancestry makes her of Cherokee heritage?

    It didn’t say she had a 1/1024 chance of Cherokee ancestry. It gave 1/1024 as the upper-bound of the amount of Cherokee ancestry she may have, while the lower bound was 1/32. In other words, she has anything from 1/32 to 1/1024 Cherokee ancestry. This isn’t an estimate of probability, it’s an estimate of the possible range of her Cherokee ancestry.

    She may, however, be the faux-sister of Rachel Dolezal

    Dolezal’s claim to be black was made up out of whole cloth, and it involved lying about who her parents were and modifying her appearance to look more stereotypically African American. Warren did not make anything up; she based her claim on the fact that parts of her family have a tradition of being of Native American ancestry.

    Family traditions can be unreliable. But that doesn’t mean accepting those traditions makes one a liar. As a noted genealogist in one of the articles on Warren points out, “Many more Americans believe they have Native ancestry than actually do (we always suspected this, but can now confirm it through genetic testing)… And someone who hails from Oklahoma [as Warren does] would be even more prone to accept a tale of Native heritage than most.”


    Similarly, some years back a group of African American celebrities who all had traditions of Native American ancestry got their DNA tested, and only two of them were able to verify they had such ancestry (one was Oprah Winfrey). Were the rest liars? Of course not. Like Warren, they were reporting accurately information that had been passed down to them. It’s like calling someone a liar because they claim that the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, which in fact didn’t happen but has been passed down to generations of schoolchildren as fact. People generally accept what they’re taught, whether in school or from their parents and grandparents. The questionable reliability of these stories is not an indictment on the honesty of those who accept them.

  46. reid says:

    @Kylopod: Good post, though I think you got lower and upper bounds backwards. A minor quibble!

  47. just nutha says:

    @Kylopod: Hal has become more comfortable with the “new” face of the GOP and is finding it easier to defend his party again.

  48. dmichael says:

    @Jen: First, I don’t mean to pick on Jen but I ask politely where Jen gets the evidence for this statement: “Most people who can trace family lineage in the US back to the early 1800s most likely have some Native American ancestry.” I have, and I don’t. Second there is a lot of misunderstanding of genetics and genealogy some of which is exemplified by some comments here. Genetics doesn’t tell you whether you are “Irish” or “Italian.” The commercial services that purport to do that are first saying that they are giving you probabilities and those are based on their internal data. That is, those who submit DNA samples to those services for analysis (I submit a risky act) have already done genealogy research on their families which are in the databases of those services. So the companies use that submitted data to say that your DNA (or some markers in it) correspond (in some way) to those who claim a particular ancestry based on the research that THEY did. Finally the criticism of Warren for doing this is another example of those who like to criticize Democrats for fighting back against Repub smears. Punch back harder and faster and while you are at it, view Warren’s short video about this.

  49. Jen says:

    @Monala: I think it’s important to reiterate what Kathy noted early on: this was not one of those “out of the box”-type DNA tests. Those are far less sensitive and as Kathy noted, they are more of a gene-matching test than a true (and far more expensive) DNA test.

    The DNA test I took also came back with results that were 48% West/Central European, 45% British Isles, 6% Scandinavian, and “trace.” Essentially, anything less than 2% in commercial tests is considered “noise.” We have Native American in my family, and while yes, it’s family history that has been passed down, we also are in possession of a photo of my NA ancestor. When I asked why this didn’t show up, the company noted that the results of these types of home tests are really only accurate to about 4 generations back–sometimes five. My ancestor was 7 generations back, and essentially it’s so dilute at that point that these tests won’t detect it–it gets lobbed into that “trace” amount.

    I most certainly do not claim to be Native American.

    @Kylopod: Thank you for including the range, I had meant to do so earlier and forgot. Warren’s detractors are focusing on the very highest/most remote edge of the range and ignoring the much lower end of it.

  50. Jen says:


    Most people who can trace family lineage in the US back to the early 1800s most likely have some Native American ancestry.

    Sorry, I absolutely should have qualified that. It was both said to me when I asked the testing service I used, and it’s been noted by several geneticists interviewed during this whole…flap.

    Basically, it’s my understanding that what they are saying is, given the size of the population of the US in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s, having a single potential Native American ancestor is not uncommon for people who have been in the US for generations. It’s shorthand, not a textbook definition.

  51. Monala says:

    @Jen: no worries, I wasn’t contesting anything in your background. I was just pointing out that in many cases, family lore around Native American ancestry may have arisen to cover up black ancestry in a white family, or white ancestry in a black family.

  52. Tyrell says:

    Much to do about nothing. I don’t have any idea why this is some issue. I guess the news media likes this sort of thing. I have notice advertising on tv of these organizations that will trace your dna for a fee. I might do that some time*. It seems like there are more important things for these politicians to be working on besides ancestry discussions.
    I have respected many of the things that Senator Warren has done. She came up through the hard knocks way, not with golden spoons. She has taken on the powerful banks and the Federal Reserve to some extent. One problem she has are some socialist style positions she has taken. She seems like a very nice person and would be a nice neighbor to have. I hope that she has not let the “Ivy League” environment affect her.
    *Southern born – that’s my dna.

  53. Guarneri says:

    For something so idiotic and irrelevant you guys sure are spending an awful lot of time on it.

    The truth is the tests give ranges, not point estimates. And it looks like from a probability standpoint she has about as much Indian blood as Euros have African blood. So, you know, to be consistent I say affirmative action for all whites, and reparations too !!!

    Have fun jerkn off. I’ve still got time for 9 holes……….

  54. Doug Nishimura says:


    It’s an issue because Trump made it so. Go talk to him.

  55. de stijl says:

    This about “othering”.

    I saw this on Lawyers, Guns & Money written by Paul Campos.

    I’ll quote someting he quoted from a piece from the Chicago Tribune(with some date additions which I’ll bold):

    When a recent Economist/YouGov poll (“recent” here refers to a December 2016 poll) showed that 42 percent of self-identified Republicans still believe that Democratic President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, it wasn’t a statistical blip or the result of a sampling error.

    A significant percentage of Republicans have long been out of their minds on the long-settled matter of Obama’s status as a natural-born citizen, which I won’t dignify here with such words as “question” or “issue.”

    In 2010, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found 31 percent of Republicans said they thought Obama was born outside the United States. In 2011, a New York Times/CBS News poll had that number at 45 percent, and a Fox News poll had it at 37 percent.

    The Economist/YouGov poll, conducted in mid-December (2016), also showed 49 percent of Republicans saying it was either definitely or probably true that “leaked email from some of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign staffers contained code words for pedophilia, human trafficking and satanic ritual abuse,” as was alleged in widely disseminated fake-news stories.

    This is always about othering. And who gets claim to be an “American”.

    It’s coded – sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes blatant. “Fauxchohontas” is pretty blatant.

    Trump is not a sophisticated thinker, but his savvy use of othering language and memes won him the R nomination – his utterly debunked birtherism made his bones with the Rs and made him appear to be strong, bold, and trustworthy to a shockingly large amount of the electorate.

    Trump got ass handed to him by Obama with the release of his long-form birth certificate, and the next person elected after Obama was Trump.

    They do this moronic shit because it works.

  56. de stijl says:


    *Southern born – that’s my dna.

    No it isn’t – that’s your culture. There is no “South/East US” DNA. You’re likely a mutt. A mutt born in the SE US.

    The only valid claim to truly American DNA would be from the folks our predecessors killed and displaced because they saw them as savages and sub-human. Given the “Southern born” comment it is more likely than not you are of Scots-Irish ancestry.

  57. Kylopod says:


    Essentially, anything less than 2% in commercial tests is considered “noise.”

    My parents recently took the test, which said my father was more than 99% Ashkenazi Jewish, but 0.2% or something Chinese.

    (Incidentally, one of the main reasons I have had no interest in taking the test myself is because from what I’ve seen from reading other people’s accounts of taking the test, Jews typically get about the most boring results imaginable. Almost every Jew I’ve heard who takes the test finds out it says they’re like 98% or more Jewish. Now, the converse isn’t true: a fairly common story I’ve heard is Gentiles discovering Jewish ancestry they never knew they had. Some years back a DNA study found that about 20% of the residents of Spain and Portugal have some Jewish ancestry, even though there are very few actual Jews there anymore.)

  58. Mister Bluster says:

    @Donna Simmons:..Let’s see her application documents.

    Let’s see your Supreme Leader Kim Jong Trump’s Tax Returns.
    Be sure you “sit up straight at attention” as he has demanded of you until he releases them.

  59. de stijl says:


    That was a very good comment.

  60. Eric Florack says:

    The only thing that she’s been successful at doing is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt then she’s whiter than LED lighting.

    She tried to double down on a lie and it blew up in her face.

  61. MotherSkadi says:

    @Jake: This average American white woman has absolutely zip NA genes in her DNA. That means Senator Warren has more than me, just in case it wasn’t clear to you. Did I mention that also goes for the rest of my family?

  62. Kylopod says:

    @Eric Florack: Are you ready to apologize for circulating an outright hoax here last week? Until you do, it’s a bit hard to take your pronouncements about someone else doubling down on a lie seriously.

  63. grumpy realist says:

    Heh. I might at some point take one of those DNA tests and see whether any of those family stories about one of my great-grandfathers being a Swedish sea captain might in fact be true…

  64. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Hal is right about this…if you listen to the idiot at the Hill link you provided…he sets it up as something he would do if he was debating Warren.
    A lot of people have been editing that portion out…which renders it misleading.

    Uh, no. Follow me on this one…

    To me, that means she is running… which makes this the strangest announcement of candidacy.

    Strange, but well funded !!! 🙂

    Well, it WOULD be well funded, if Trump was actually a billionaire and we actually expect him to keep his word.

  65. de stijl says:

    We know nothing about our past if we rely on family stories. They are constructs.

    My maternal grandmother, after my Grandfather died, lived with a female “friend” and her brother who I called Uncle X and her “friend” was Aunt Y. They presented as a “Boston marriage” and were both teachers. They shared a bedroom – they shared a bed. And it did not occur to me until I was way older than it should have registered, that they were a committed lesbian couple.

    They acted like pals, buddies, chums – two financially independent women sharing household expenses.

    I won’t even tell how old I was when it occurred to me that Grandma Z was in a romantic relationship with Aunt Y. I called up a cousin and asked her if what I suspected was true and her response basically boiled to “Yeah! Are you that stupid that you didn’t see that?”

    Stuff that is right in front of us escapes our attention because we’ve internalized the constructed story of what our family wants us and outsiders to believe. Mom is not depressed, she’s “under the weather”, Dad is not an alcoholic, he “likes his beer”. Uncle Teddy, who you never, ever have unsupervised visits with, isn’t a pedophile, he’s a “free-spirit”. It’s insidious.

  66. de stijl says:


    Cherokee Nation responded to Elizabeth Warren’s latest stunt attempting to prove she is of Native American descent.

    Please provide a link.

  67. Mister Bluster says:

    @de stijl: “Yeah! Are you that stupid that you didn’t see that?”

    It was more ignorance on my part than stupid.
    I clearly remember Mr. Perkins, the Jr. High School choir director in the small midwestern city where I lived in 1961, telling all of us on the first day of practice “…before you hear the rumors I am married to my cousin and a young man lives with us for personal reasons.”
    Went right over my head.

  68. Tyrell says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Mister Bluster: I recall a while back that one of the news networks had a copy of Trump’s tax returns. I don’t know how they got it, but it had no “smoking gun” or a “gotcha” that some of these news networks are always trying to pull. It actually showed that his tax rate was higher than Obama’s and Bernie Sanders. After that the tax return issue faded away. “Well, I guess that’s it”.
    I don’t know if they got the returns legally or not. If it was done illegally someone should have been in trouble. If someone offered to me even the US secret UFO files, as much as I want them, I would not take them unless I knew it was under lawful circumstances. Shameful the depths that the news media has sunken to.

  69. Scott O says:

    Is there even one Trump supporter that isn’t an a**hole? Every comment they post is just rude and total bs.

  70. Kylopod says:

    @Scott O:

    Is there even one Trump supporter that isn’t an a**hole?

    In general? There are plenty of people out there who happen to be Trump supporters who are decent people. I know some. You’re not likely to find any of them at this forum, though.

  71. de stijl says:

    I was well into my 40s and after my father passed that my mother shared with me that my dad’s waaay younger brother was actually his half brother, and my paternal grandmother had a kid sired by a guy who wasn’t my grandfather (they were still then, and remained married until they died).

    In retrospect, it’s weird I now know this. My parents knew and always knew. My grandparents knew (one very obviously). I do not know whether or not my Uncle knows he is not the son of his “father”.

    My life was not improved by knowing this. This was something I did not need to know for medical family health reasons. My mother was often petty and cruel, but she became more so as she aged. I believe she eventually told this to me because she enjoyed using secrets to escalate drama.

    Knowing this has queered (old sense) our interactions. I only talk to him once or twice a year on the phone. We share updates, but when I do, I’m actively thinking about it and also super certain not to broach the subject.

    A lot of the freely shared family stories have some nugget of truth behind them. But the constructed front that families present to the world is usually a genteel pile of bullshit.

  72. Hal_10000 says:

    @liberal capitalist:

    Uh, yes. That was the exact speech I was referring to. He’s talking about something he would do if he were in a Presidential debate with her. Here’s the longer quote:

    “I shouldn’t tell you because I like to not give away secrets,” Trump said. “But let’s say I’m debating Pocahontas. I promise you I’ll do this: I will take, you know those little kits they sell on television… learn your heritage!”

    “And in the middle of the debate, when she proclaims that she is of Indian heritage because her mother said she has high cheek bones, that is her only evidence, her mother said we have high cheek bones,” Trump continued.

    “We will take that little kit — but we have to do it gently. Because we’re in the #MeToo generation, we have to do it gently,” the president trolled. “And we will very genlty take that kit, and slowly toss it, hoping it doesn’t injure her arm, and we will say: I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.”

    The Hill has a bad tendency to elide relevant parts of quotes. In this case, the elided the entire context.


  73. Scott O says:

    @Kylopod: These people that you know, how do they feel about the endless lies and the cruel bullying?

    Many years ago I worked for a decent person that was very religious and very pro life. I rarely see him these days and I would never discuss politics with him. I’m sure he voted for Trump as he would have for any Republican. I like to think that he doesn’t approve of Trump’s behavior but I really don’t know.

    On the other hand I’ve got a brother that voted for Trump. If you met him you would probably come away with the impression that he’s a decent guy. Until I showed you some of his Facebook posts.

  74. de stijl says:

    @Donna Simmons:

    Here is the full statement from Chuck Hoskin Jr. Secretary of State speaking for the Cherokee Nation:

    “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 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. 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.”

  75. de stijl says:


    The Hill is basically a Republican party organ at this point. It reports what Republicans want to be in print so it can later be weaponized.

  76. de stijl says:

    Back to Hoskin’s press release:

    Please correct if I’m wrong, but Warren is not now, nor has she ever, tried to claim she is Cherokee. Nor has she used that claim for any professional “bump” per the Boston Globe investigation. She took the DNA test and released the results to disprove the claim she has no NA ancestors.

    Hoskin finishes with:

    Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage

    which is odd because Warren has never claimed official Cherokee tribal heritage nor sought it.

    At his point, you have to provide evidence that Warren claimed to be affiliated with the Cherokee Nation or used it as an implication to game the system and derive special treatment or benefits.

    Hoskins is addressing something Warren has never reportedly done. IOW, he’s been gas-lighted.

  77. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I love how Eisenhower is greedily eyeballin’ the lines laid out between Trump, Lincoln, and Nixon. Dude’s a fiend. It’s all that speed he did in the ETO to stay awake.

  78. de stijl says:

    And Nixon drinking wine – as if! Nixon was a straight spirits man. He stumbled around the WH residence drunk as a skunk railing at his enemies and “The Jews”. Nixon was not a red wine man.

  79. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tyrell:..If someone offered to me even the US secret UFO files, as much as I want them, I would not take them unless I knew it was under lawful circumstances.

    Everything you need to know about Unidentified Extraterrestrial Aliens is explained in the 1959 Classic PLAN 9 from OUTER SPACE. Directed by Kubric harbinger Ed Wood and featuring Dudly Manlove as Eros.

    Eros: You know, it’s an interesting think when you consider… the Earth people, who can think, are so frightened by those who cannot: the dead.

  80. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I have seen and judged worse movies than Plan 9.

    Btw, if your town does a 48 hour film festival, think about getting involved ‘cuz it’s awesome, but some of the entries are so inept and conceptually flawed.

    The worst are often from the brightest people who misunderstand that film is visual, not verbal. Smart people can make really crappy movies because they want to speak the story rather than showing it. And so much bad expositional “dialog” a la Plan 9.

    If you live in a town that is > 100k pop (or >50k with a college), it’s really likely they have a 48 hour film festival. Get involved. It’s cool af. And you will meet really interesting people many of which you will want to befriend.

    It’s the most cringe-worthy. People watch a lot of movies but really underestimate what it takes to make one. Just the logistics alone are so daunting. Really smart folks can make the shittiest movie you’ve ever seen because they did not truly understand the medium. Seriously, show the story, don’t tell it to me. And cool visuals don’t make a good movie. They never hurt, though.

  81. de stijl says:


    If someone offered to me even the US secret UFO files, as much as I want them, I would not take them unless I knew it was under lawful circumstances.

    This is just so … precious? naive? idiotic? idealistic? bizarre? random?

    Is there a German word for this?

  82. wr says:

    @Donna Simmons: “Let’s see her application documents.”

    Right after you show us your driver’s license. Or would that pose a problem to our little Bungles now posting as “Donna”?

  83. Blue Galangal says:

    @de stijl: I am sure I’ve mentioned this before but the Plinkett reviews of the Star Wars prequels are both a crash course and a master class in how to tell a story on film.

  84. al Ameda says:

    @de stijl:

    This is just so … precious? naive? idiotic? idealistic? bizarre? random?
    Is there a German word for this?

    ummm, “KoolAid-zeit”?

  85. Mister Bluster says:

    @de stijl:..I have seen and judged worse movies than Plan 9.

    A Bucket of Blood and Basket Case are two titles I remember when I think of bad film.
    The Big Muddy Film Festival has been running here at Sleepytown U for 40+ years.