Elizabeth Warren, President Trump Spar Over Cherokee Heritage As the president and Elizabeth Warren trade jabs over her Native American roots, the Cherokee Nation secretary of state tells NPR they should instead be looking into the needs of Indian Country.
NPR logo Cherokee Official Says Trump-Warren DNA Debate Isn't Helping Tribe

Cherokee Official Says Trump-Warren DNA Debate Isn't Helping Tribe

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez (left) and congressional Democratic candidate Ayanna Pressley (second from left). Scott Eisen/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez (left) and congressional Democratic candidate Ayanna Pressley (second from left).

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A DNA test showing that Sen. Elizabeth Warren has Native American ancestry is "completely irrelevant to the process" of determining her tribal identity, the Cherokee secretary of state told NPR's Morning Edition.

Chuck Hoskin was also critical of President Trump, saying he "should not be calling her 'Pocahontas,' " and that he "should be looking into what the needs of Indian Country are, because the needs are there."

Trump has continued to attack the Massachusetts senator and potential 2020 rival on Twitter, charging Tuesday morning "that her claims of being of Indian heritage have turned out to be a scam and a lie" and saying she "should apologize for perpetrating this fraud against the American Public."

Warren, meanwhile, also took to Twitter, saying Trump "fumbled and lied on your $1 million pledge."

That refers to Trump's earlier challenge to Warren to take a DNA test, and pledging $1 million to her favorite charity if it showed she did, in fact, have Native American roots.

Another claim in Trump's tweet bears correcting.

Harvard did not call Warren "a person of color" and hire her to teach law because of Native American ancestry. The Boston Globe found just the opposite, in what it called "the most exhaustive review undertaken of her professional history":

"[H]er claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal procession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman."

Hoskin said none of this helps the Cherokee Nation.

"For a senator, in this context, on this ongoing back-and-forth political fight, to talk about DNA," he said, "it really undermines tribal interest, frankly."

He added, "It certainly doesn't help when the president of the United States attacks a senator or if a senator bogs down in DNA results."