A Cherokee genealogist on Wednesday dismissed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Indian ancestry as “ludicrous,” arguing that the Massachusetts Democrat “has no respect for true Native Americans.”
Twila Barnes, who has done extensive research into Ms. Warren’s family tree, added that the high-profile progressive leader has angered some Native Americans by appearing to leverage her dubious heritage to advance her career.
“Some just laugh, because it’s so ludicrous. I mean, you know, she has no proof of anything,” Ms. Barnes said on Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“She’s a lawyer, and she’s supposed to understand you need proof, yet she keeps claiming,” said Ms. Barnes, whose research appears on the Thoughts from Polly’s Granddaughter website. “Many are angry because they feel like she’s appropriating an identity to gain something from that. And she has no respect for true Native Americans.”
Ms. Warren’s Cherokee heritage claims have dogged her during her 2018 re-election bid, thanks in large part to President Trump’s repeated referrals to the senator as “Pocahontas,” a nickname she has denounced as a “racial slur.”
The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, which endorsed her in 2012, called on her last week to take a DNA test to resolve the issue once and for all, while independent candidate Shiva Ayyadurai has sent her two DNA kits, both of which were returned.
Ms. Warren, who is not an enrolled member of any tribe, appeared on three Sunday news shows to retell the story of how her parents had to elope because her grandparents refused to let their son marry a woman of Delaware and Cherokee ancestry.
Ms. Barnes said the evidence shows otherwise. She has posted documents online showing that Ms. Warren’s parents were married by a prominent Methodist minister with a friend as a witness, and that they returned later that day to their hometown in Wetumka, Oklahoma.
The wedding also received a glowing write-up in the local newspaper, which called the couple “two of Wetumka’s most popular young people.”
“I don’t think he [the minister] would have done a wedding for two kids that ran away an eloped and their parents didn’t approve,” Ms. Barnes said. “Also, Elizabeth Warren’s father, he had at least one brother and one sister who also just went and had small weddings the same way. I just think it’s the way their family did things at the time. I don’t think it was an elopement.”
Ms. Warren was listed as Native American in the Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania law faculty directories, but she has denied that identifying herself as Cherokee caused her to receive preferential treatment in hiring.
She swung back Sunday at the criticism by relaying the elopement story, insisting, “I know who I am,” but the high-profile interviews may have backfired by focusing national attention on the issue, which is expected to haunt her if she runs for president.
“Warren no longer is the master of her narrative,” said Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson on the Legal Insurrection blog. “Trump can drown out any other issues Warren wants to focus on any time he wants simply by calling her ‘Pocahontas.’ That generates media coverage, and Warren’s flailing counterattacks simply prolong the news cycle.”