No matter what Elizabeth Warren's DNA test shows, there's no genetic test to prove you're Native American


October 16, 2018

Over the weekend, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released the results of a genetic test suggesting she does have some Native American ancestry. Warren, who is likely to run for president in 2020, probably hopes that the results will stop President Trump and his supporters from mocking her by calling her “Pocahontas.” But even if these particular attacks stop, the test certainly doesn’t prove that she’s Native American. There is no DNA test for being Native American because DNA and genetic ancestry are not the same as culture and identity.

Carlos Bustamante, a prominent Stanford University geneticist and MacArthur fellow, led the analysis, so it’s far more likely to be accurate than direct-to-consumer DNA tests that sometimes botch results. He concludes that though Warren is mostly European, “the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor” six to 10 generations ago. This could support Warren’s claims, though if her ancestor is fully 10 generations back, she would be only 1/1024th Native American, a fact that critics would love to emphasize.


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