Last week, a newspaper’s editorial board urged Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to “take the spit test” to prove her Native American heritage.
The Berkshire Eagle, of Pittsfield, Mass., said the test results would put to rest the rumors that the senator is lying about her background, and that she used her Native American heritage to further her academic career. In a racially tinged attack line, President Trump frequently refers to Warren as “Pocahontas.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Warren rejected the idea of taking a DNA test. She retold the story that opponents have questioned since her first bid for public office in 2012.
Her parents fell in love as teenagers in Oklahoma, Warren said. They eloped because her mother’s Native American heritage made her father’s family “bitterly opposed” to the union,“ Warren explained.
“That’s the story that my brothers and I all learned from our mom and our dad, from our grandparents, from all of our aunts and uncles,” she said. “It’s a part of me, and nobody’s going to take that part of me away.”
Warren also denied that her Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage has helped advance her career.
“I know who I am and never used it for anything,” Warren said Sunday. “Never got any benefit from it anywhere.”
A directory of law professors listed Warren as a minority from 1986 to 1995, just before she joined Harvard Law School. When the claim emerged as a flash point in her 2012 Senate race, Charles Fried, a Harvard Law School professor who recruited her, said her ethnic status had nothing to do with how she got the job. “That’s totally stupid, ignorant, uninformed and simply wrong,” he told the Associated Press at the time. “I presented her case to the faculty. I did not mention her Native American connection because I did not know about it.”
During the interview, Warren did not explicitly rule out a 2020 bid. She said she is focused on getting reelected to her Senate seat this year and on supporting party-building efforts across the country. “I’m not running for president,” she said, while sidestepping four attempts by host Chuck Todd to pin her down on whether she will pledge to serve out another six-year Senate term.
On “Meet the Press,” Warren also stressed the importance of focusing on the challenges faced by Native American communities, something she promised she would do in an address to the National Congress of American Indians last month.