It all started with family stories in Oklahoma. Senator Elizabeth Warren grew up being told she was part Native American. Now a DNA test says that is true, but not everyone is happy about the news.
Way back, long before smart phones, the internet, and Google, people used to pass information along by talking to each other. Yes! They really did. This is how many of us learned about our family history. We didn't run to Ancestry.com; we sat around the kitchen table and listened to Grandma tell stories.
David Herring, Warren's brother, explains it like this:
The people attacking Betsy and our family don't know much about either. We grew up listening to our mother and grandmother and other relatives talk about our family's Cherokee and Delaware heritage. They've passed away now, but they'd be angry if they were around today listening to all this.
So, it's not such an odd thing that Warren, who grew up hearing stories about being Native American, would claim just that. All was well, until Donald Trump came on the scene and began to challenge the notion of Warren's genealogy, going so far to say if she could prove her Native American heritage, he would donate a million dollars to charity.
Now with a DNA test, Warren has published results saying some of her blood line showed "the results strongly support the existence of an un-admixed Native American ancestor." even though the majority was European.
Warren has used the results to go after Trump to pay up. She has even designated a charity.
NIWRC is a nonprofit working to protect Native women from violence. More than half of all Native women have experie… https://t.co/LEhHXPYug5— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren) 1539608688.0
In a thread on Twitter, Warren laid it all out.
I get it: @realDonaldTrump is afraid of facts. But I’m not. And the facts are clear. A deep, independent investigat… https://t.co/uzDRWwAXzh— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren) 1539599786.0
I never expected my family’s story to be used as a racist political joke, but I don’t take any fight lying down. I… https://t.co/H5wMEvYl5f— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren) 1539599861.0
But not everyone is celebrating. Many Native people have mixed feelings about all of this back and forth of what they see as white politicians fighting over and and using DNA tests to "prove" their heritage.
That's not how this works, that's not how any of this works. Can Warren just stop? I would much rather it said Warr… https://t.co/NMzYFPCnWs— Emmy Scott (@Emmy Scott) 1539604757.0
Dear @SenWarren: A DNA test does not make you Native! 🙄 Even if you had a CDIB that would not make you Native! Nati… https://t.co/fqBGaGhHc2— Emilio Reyes (@Emilio Reyes) 1539614653.0
The piece of the Warren video that is hard for me is the entire section of folks defending her hiring. They say “he… https://t.co/APBQVjd0j6— Adrienne Keene (@Adrienne Keene) 1539615638.0
Many folks pointed to a thread created in 2016 by Kim TallBear for education on the matter.
If you have an opinion on DNA tests in regards to Indigenous peoples, please hold them. These issues directly affe… https://t.co/Oi1Gq7o5sZ— Kaitlin Curtice (@Kaitlin Curtice) 1539611791.0
Pro tip: when it comes to understanding and learning about #Native identity, listen to Native ppl b4 White ppl. A… https://t.co/yjidyB9POj— Rebecca Nagle (@Rebecca Nagle) 1539611788.0
Some folks pointed out that it was never Warren's intention to claim to be Native American; she was simply going by what she'd heard growing up.
It was only when it became a mocking point of President Trump that she hit back.
@emiliotongva @SenWarren Perhaps Warren, like many of us, wanted to confirm her genetic background and the outcome… https://t.co/iOk1bS4NWD— Jude (@Jude) 1539627987.0
@emiliotongva @SenWarren Did she claim she was native or had native ancestry? Isn’t saying it’s “in your bloodline”… https://t.co/N0RxCsGqHM— DebN🌊🏳️🌈 #VoteBidenHarris (@DebN🌊🏳️🌈 #VoteBidenHarris) 1539628557.0
@emiliotongva @SenWarren Well this silly notion of a DNA was started by @realDonaldTrump - the instigator in-chief… https://t.co/A71oynmHxT— USA 🇺🇸 ❤️🙏🏻 Arkitect (@USA 🇺🇸 ❤️🙏🏻 Arkitect) 1539625614.0
This may take some very nuanced conversation to sort out, but we can all at least agree Trump needs to pay up.
It would seem his memory is slipping.
Having some memory problems, @realDonaldTrump? Should we call for a doctor? Here’s something you won’t “forget,” M… https://t.co/ZMxfWQ2P7j— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren) 1539618349.0
Make that check out to National Indigenous Women's Resource Center.