That the best you can do for Native American DNA, Elizabeth Warren? (Updated)

Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the pastiest white woman in the entire Senate, has long been a figure of fun for her claim to be the "first woman of color" to teach at Harvard Law School, owing to her "family lore" of holding Native American ancestry.  It doesn't exactly seem to check out based on looking at her, or asking around in the Oklahoma Native American community she claims to be part of.  President Trump has had a field day with her pretensions, calling her "Pocahontas."

Now she's come out after a long, long hiatus from those charges to claim that yes, she's found a geneticist who claims she has a Native American ancestor, some six to ten generations back.  According to the Washington Post:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is gearing up for a potential 2020 presidential bid, has released a DNA test that suggests she has a distant Native American ancestor, part of an extraordinary effort to discredit President Trump and others who have questioned her claims about her heritage.

Warren's "gotcha" is hardly the "slam dunk" she claims.  The genetic finding she cites makes her at most 1/32 Native American, and it could easily be as little as 1/512 Native American.  [Update: The Boston Globe, which reported the original story, corrected its math to 1/1,024.] Since Warren's original claim to Native American ancestry was that her great, great, great grandmother Sara was "part" Native American, that raises the likelihood that she's in the 1/1,024 range.

This is almost exactly the same as the average white American's composition of Native American ancestry.  One out of 512 is 0.19 percent.  The average white American's is 0.18 percent, according to Sam Morningstar, who has an authoritative-looking piece on Quora about how Native American ancestry works in the U.S. and the fact that it's frankly, among whites, quite rare.  The 0.18 percent average, he notes, is easily misleading, given that most white Americans have utterly no Native American ancestry in them, and a small number have much more.

Here we have Elizabeth Warren, right there on the white-people average for being Indian at the original 1/512 level, and 0.097 percent, or half that of the average white American, at the 1/1,024 level. 

This doesn't even get into the skeeviness of DNA tests (mine told me I was Irish, Greek and Latino, which I find hard to believe), which is often a function of genetic traits matching certain geographic populations.  In Warren's claim, her Stanford geneticist (a buddy?) claims there was a high likelihood that she had one unadmixtured Native American ancestor from six to ten generations back. And instead of testing his claim with Native American DNA, he used Mexican DNA, which is known to be infused with European bloodlines.

Given the potential buddy factor, one wonders how she'd do in a blind DNA test from, the kind Trump said he'd like to throw her at a presidential debate.  Howie Carr suspects she already had taken that and didn't like the result, which would explain why she has been so silent as Trump has had his fun.

It's funny because, well, she's so white-bread in appearance, much more than most other whites.  And her tomato-mayonnaise choice of recipes for a Native American recipe book called Pow Wow Chow, apparently taken from some other publication, couldn't have been more whitey-white, either.  Howie Carr exposed that one, too.

What's not funny is that Warren is charged with using that utterly tenuous claim to Indian blood to get a leg up on other applicants for law positions at competitive universities.

Warren was touted in recruitment literature for her Native American heritage by Harvard and Penn, while Fordham Law Review hailed her as Harvard Law's "first woman of color," something she never tried to disabuse the university of at the time as the former house-flipper bit and clawed her way to the top.

She liked the unearned advantage on other white applicants, and never mind that she displaced a genuine Native American from the affirmative action slot.

And by the way, Harvard is finding itself on the defensive about that whole affirmative action slot business these days.

Can a white guy with 1/512 or 1/1,024 percent African-American blood be able to claim that black affirmative action law professor slot now, Liz? Well, Liz showed that it could be done. What's more, the average real Indian nation requires a 1/16, or 6 percent DNA bloodline to get onto the tribal rolls.

All anyone else can see is that Warren's claim to Native American heritage is still being upstaged by the real issue: that she gamed the system to profit from it.  While she may crow about finding a geneticist to say she has a trace of Native American blood, her own website's page titled "fact squad" tells the real story of what she's worried about as she prepares for her next political climb: her long insistence that she never, never, never ever gamed the system – and her website has a, kid you not, 4,000-word apologia to insist she didn't.  Talk about the lady doth protest too much.

It doesn't mention the literature or the Pow Wow Chow.

Nice try, Liz.  But you're still a fake Indian whose real problem is that you used a drop of ancestry to game an entire system.

Image credit: Tim Pierce via Wikipédia, Wikimedia Commons (detail), CC BY-SA 2.0.

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