Genetic games

Senator’s claims of indigenous affiliation is ridiculous.

by Bri Branscomb, Editor-in-Chief

Senator Elizabeth Warren recently made headlines after she publicly released the results of a genome test conducted to determine her ethnic ancestral makeup. This came as a result of a long-standing feud between Warren and President Donald Trump, as Trump has mocked Warren’s claims in the past and gone so far as to call her ‘Pocahontas.’ The results of Warrens widely anticipated ancestral report left many confused, as it revealed that she may have as little as 1/1,024 of Native American makeup in her DNA.

Now, this isn’t to say that Warren has lied about her ancestry, as many news outlets have tried to claim. Genetics can be tricky, as the inheritance of genetic makeup is never a clear cut thing. It is entirely plausible that Warren had an indigenous ancestor at some point, though the date at which this ancestor entered the family line is muddled. It’s likely that the indigenous ancestry stems from the mid-1800’s, as is congruent with Warren’s claims, or that the ancestor dates from as far back as 250 years ago. While this technically means that Warren wasn’t lying, it doesn’t make her attempt to portray herself as an indigenous American any less offensive.

To be clear: it isn’t acceptable for a white woman to try and make herself seem like she is a minority. Though Warren may try and act differently, she is a Caucasian woman living in America who receives all of the corresponding privileges. She is not registered with a First Nation tribe. She doesn’t actively participate in indigenous cultural celebrations or practices. Attempting to make herself more relatable by adding a bit of ‘color’ to her familial history is overwhelmingly racist, as it reduces indigenous American cultures down to a minuscule amount of DNA, instead of acknowledging them as living, thriving community. Warrens ‘power move’ is ultimately embarrassing for the senator, as it shows her ignorance about the very tribal ancestry she claims to be so proud of.