Well, that didn’t go according to plan.
After making a big show of taking a DNA test to determine her ancestry, it turns out that Elizabeth Warren has negligible Native American roots. Not only is the Massachusetts Democrat white, she's really, really white, possessing less Native American blood than the average European-American.
The Boston Globe was first to report on a six-page DNA analysis conducted by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor and adviser to the do-it-yourself testing company, 23andMe. But while Bustamante is a professional in his field, even the Globe had to note “the inherent imprecision of the six-page DNA analysis.”
[Related: Kellyanne Conway dismisses Elizabeth Warren's DNA test]
All depends on the great-great-great-great-grandmother of Warren. If that matriarch was a Native American, then the senator is 1/64th American Indian. (The Globe mistakenly has it as 1/32.) But her Native American ancestor could just as likely go back 10 generations, the analysis reports, meaning Warren would be just 1/1024th American Indian.
What do those fractions actually mean? Well, geneticists estimate that the average European-American has genes that are 98.6 percent European, .19 percent African, and .18 Native American. By comparison, Warren’s genes might be just 0.09 percent Native American. On average, if you have a European background, she's probably less Native American than you or I.
Warren has just guaranteed that the 2020 presidential election will become an agonizing genealogy project. She regularly bragged about her heritage and listed herself as a minority in the Association of American Law School’s directory while a Harvard Law School professor and even contributing a recipe to a Native American cookbook called Pow Wow Chow. Harvard's law school bragged about her as a Native American hire.
Until the recent analysis, there was no absolute proof that Warren is not Native American. Now there is. As the Washington Post reported, the government defines heritage as “having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America” and “maintain cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.”
Warren has never had such an affiliation, and the DNA test raised the possibility that she is whiter than the average white person despite all her bragging.