A DNA Test Won’t Explain Elizabeth Warren’s Ancestry

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tags: election 2016, Elizabeth Warren



Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator who lost to Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 election, has decided to dredge up old accusations that may have ultimately cost him that race.

“As you know, she’s not Native American,” Brown told reporters this week. “She’s not 1/32 Cherokee.” He then called on Harvard University, where Warren was a law professor, to release records that allegedly indicate Warren benefited from affirmative action (there’s no reason to believe this is true), before suggesting that “she can take a DNA test” if she wants to prove her roots.

But here’s the thing: DNA testing cannot definitively prove whether a person is Cherokee. Or a member of any community, at least not reliably. To assume it can is to assume that there’s something inherently different in the genetic makeup of tribal members and that this thing is universal within that community. That’s not true.




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