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On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released results from DNA testing, suggesting she has Native American ancestry and thrusting the issue of genetic testing and Native American identity into the spotlight.
"It's important to be thinking about where community and culture is derived from," said Matthew Anderson, a geneticist at The Ohio State University, who is of Eastern Cherokee descent. "It's not the DNA."
Warren - Oklahoma - Relatives - Side - Blood
Warren, who was born in Oklahoma, has long held that her relatives on her maternal side had Native American blood, a family story that has been passed down from generation to generation. The new DNA test shows that Warren does indeed have five segments in her genome that are common to indigenous American populations. Carlos Bustamante, a Stanford University geneticist who conducted the analysis, told the Boston Globe that the results indicate that Warren had a Native American ancestor six to 10 generations back. The results seem trustworthy, genetics experts contacted by Live Science said.
Bustamante's assessment is "plenty good enough to do what he says," said J. Douglas McDonald, a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Illinois who developed biogeographic analysis software for ancestry testing.
Warren - Results - Membership - Tribes - Rolls
But Warren's results wouldn't qualify her to seek tribal membership. Tribes determine their own rolls (list of members) and do not use DNA ancestry testing to do so. Some use genealogy research and set certain requirements for the percentage of Native American blood needed to qualify for membership; others require applicants to prove that they are related to someone already on the tribal membership rolls.
"A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship," Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. "Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person's ancestors were indigenous to North or South America."
Fact - DNA - Test
In fact, no DNA test can conclusively prove or...
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