Elizabeth Warren agrees to take DNA test, and it’s a howler

Elizabeth Warren agrees to take DNA test, and it’s a howler
Warren with a photo of her great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Chief Cock and Bull (Images: Left, YouTube screen grab, right, Library of Congress)

Take that, Donald Trump. The president dared Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to take a DNA test, and she finally complied. The results, according to the left-leaning Boston Globe, with whom she shared the results, provide “’strong evidence’ she had a Native American in her family tree dating back 6 to 10 generations.”

That timing fits Warren’s family lore, passed down during her Oklahoma upbringing, that her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was at least partially Native American.

The article, whose argument gets as it progresses, notes that “the vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, but that “the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor” somewhere back in time.

So what does this all mean? By even Globe’s lights, absolutely nothing.

The inherent imprecision of the six-page DNA analysis could provide fodder for Warren’s critics. If her great-great-great-grandmother was Native American, that puts her at 1/32nd American Indian. But the report includes the possibility that she’s just 1/1024th Native American if the ancestor is 10 generations back.

That possibility wouldn’t do much to shore up Warren’s claim of having high cheekbones, but it certainly lends credence to her very pale face, blue eyes, and blond hair.

Then there’s this:

Detecting DNA for Native Americans is particularly tricky because there is an absence of Native American DNA available for comparison. This is in part because Native American leaders have asked tribal members not to participate in genetic databases.


To make up for the dearth of Native American DNA, Bustamante used samples from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to stand in for Native American.

If this constitutes “strong evidence,” I’d hate to see what Carlos D. Bustamante, the “expert” who conducted Warren’s test, considers weak evidence.

If there’s one thing the test does support, it’s Warren’s claim that Donald Trump will “never take away” her American Indian heritage. In order to do that, he’d have to find it first.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."


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