More than 200 Native Americans have signed a letter calling for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to officially retract any claim of having native heritage, prompting an open letter from her in which she apologized for having identified as Native American.
"Senator Warren, as you seek the Democratic nomination for president of the United States, your history of false claims to American Indian identity and the defense of these claims with a highly publicized DNA test continue to dog your political career," reads the letter, which was sent on Tuesday and organized by Joseph M. Pierce, Daniel Heath Justice, Rebecca Nagle, and Twila Barnes, who are all Cherokee Nation citizens.
"For Native Americans, this moment is more than an annoyance; it represents the most public debate about our identity in a generation. In a country where Indigenous people are mostly invisible, what Americans conclude from this debate will impact Native rights for years to come."
Warren wrote back to the authors, "I am not a person of color; I am a white woman, and that is how I identify. In addition, I am not a tribal citizen. Tribal Nations — and only Tribal Nations — determine tribal citizenship. It's their right as a matter of sovereignty, and they exercise that in the ways they choose to exercise it."
Justice, Pierce, and Nagle told the Los Angeles Times after receiving Warren's response that she had "made an effort" to address the issue of DNA tests and how to determine who is native, but noted that she did not firmly state that the family story she referred to was false, which was one of the key statements they requested in their letter.
"We hope that after further dialogue with the campaign, Warren will bravely and publicly tell the truth about her family," they said.
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