Warren's Native ties spark debate

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN TV) -- When Sen. Elizabeth Warren released results of a DNA test showing evidence of Native American ancestry it rekindled a running spat the Massachusetts Democrat has with President Trump who refers to her as Pocahontas.

The move also sparked push back in Indian Country.

Warren last week released DNA findings that "strongly support" her claim of Native American ancestry. The tests point to her having a Native ancestor 6 to 10 generations ago. Trump immediately ridiculed the report and kept up his criticism on Monday in Montana.

"I've been saying it for a year and a half," he told a Missoula campaign rally crowd, "I have more Indian blood than she has and I have none. But I can't use the name Pocahontas any more but if you don't mind I will anyway. We gotta keep her down."

Trump's reference is to a 17th Century daughter of Powhatan, a Native leader in what is today Virginia.

The senator, widely expected to run for president in 2020, has also been called out in Indian Country. Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr. minced no words.

"While DNA tests can be used to determine lineage ... (they are) not evidence for tribal affiliation," he said. "Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to ... any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong."

Warren did not claim tribal affiliation which is generally not reliant on so-called blood quantum levels. Indeed, area tribes such as the Oglala, Cheyenne River and Rosebud Sioux all require applicants to have ancestors in the tribe, not minimum blood levels. But that didn't deter Hoskin.

"Sen. Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage," he said.

But the criticism was not monolithic as Warren does have support in Indian Country where some see the president's jibes as the chief transgression.

"To take a respected woman of the Native nations, the Powhatan tribe in Virginia, and use her name to insult Elizabeth Warren I think is just taking things a little bit too far," said Tim Giago, the editor of the Native Sun News.