After years of being called "Pocahontas" by Trump, Warren proves she has Native American ancestry

Trump had said he would donate $1 million to charity if Warren took a DNA test proving her Native American heritage

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 15, 2018 10:14AM (EDT)


Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who is widely considered to be a potential presidential candidate in 2020, just removed one of the main obstacles impeding her potential candidacy by confirming that she is of partial Native American heritage.

Carlos Bustamante, a professor of genetics at Stanford and adviser to Ancestry and 23 and Me, confirmed with Warren that she has Native American ancestry going back anywhere six to ten generations, according to CNN. Although the test found that most of Warren's identifiable ancestry is European, the report added that "the analysis also identified 5 genetic segments as Native American in origin at high confidence."

In a highly produced video promoting the findings, Warren asks Bustamente, "Now, the president likes to call my mom a liar. What do the facts say?"

Bustamante replies, "The facts suggest that you absolutely have a Native American ancestor in your pedigree."

The video makes no secret of the fact that it is responding to President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly referred to Warren by the disparaging nickname "Pocahontas" in response to her claiming Native American heritage. In addition to showing clips of Trump mocking Warren's ancestry, the video also shows Warren's former academic colleagues disputing claims that she was hired as an affirmative action pick on the basis of that alleged heritage.

It remains to be seen whether Warren's test results will put Trump in a PR bind. In addition to disproving one of his longstanding accusations against the senator, the president also vowed in July that, if Warren took a DNA test that proved she had Native American heritage, he would donate $1 million to the charity of her choice.

"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. I have a feeling she will say no," Trump told a group of supporters, according to NBC News. "She's based her life on being a minority."

But responding to reporters in front of the White House on Monday, Trump denied ever offering the bet.

"I didn't say that. You'd better read it again," Trump said when asked about his $1 million offer.

Responding to a question about Warren's test, Trump shrugged off his yearslong racist attack against the Democrat: "Who cares?"

Earlier this year, Warren delivered an acclaimed speech at an event for the National Congress of American Indians that described her family's story in considerable detail.

By all accounts, my mother was a beauty. She was born in Eastern Oklahoma, on this exact day -- Valentine's Day -- February 14, 1912. She grew up in the little town of Wetumka, the kind of girl who would sit for hours by herself, playing the piano and singing. My daddy fell head over heels in love with her.

But my mother's family was part Native American. And my daddy's parents were bitterly opposed to their relationship. So, in 1932, when Mother was 19 and Daddy had just turned 20, they eloped.

She later described how her parents suffered from economic hardships during the Great Depression.

They're gone, but the love they shared, the struggles they endured, the family they built, and the story they lived will always be a part of me. And no one — not even the President of the United States — will ever take that part of me away.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2020 Presidential Election Dna Tests Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Native American Pocahontas