Elizabeth Warren keeps on apologizing for Native American controversy

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Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Alejandro Tapia y Rivera Theater in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 22, 2019. Copyright Carlos Giusti AP
By Alex Seitz-Wald with NBC News Politics
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Months after trying to get the issue behind her, the presidential candidate said Wednesday she had apologized to the leader of the Cherokee Nation.


WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly apologized Wednesday for any "harm caused" by her past claims of Native American ancestry, responding once again to a controversy that has dogged her nascent presidential campaign.

"This is about my family, my brothers, and it is about an apology from the heart," the Massachusetts Democrat and presidential candidate told reporters outside her office on Capitol Hill.

Warren said she had a "good conversation" last week with the leader of the Cherokee Nation, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, who said in a statement Friday that Warren had apologized for releasing the results of a DNA test that showed she has distant Native American ancestors.

"I told Chief Baker that I am sorry, that I extended confusion about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty, and for harm caused. I am also sorry for not being more mindful of this decades ago," Warren said Wednesday.

The White House hopeful had hoped to put this issue to rest months before entering the 2020 presidential race, but it was revived this week after the Washington Post uncovered a form she filled out in 1986 to become a member of the Texas Bar Association where, in her own handwriting, she listed her ethnicity as "American Indian."

Still, Warren insisted she never received favorable treatment by claiming Native ancestry, as Republibcan critics have long maintained, including President Donald Trump who has dubbed her "Pocahontas."

"That is a claim that has been fully investigated and it has now been shown completely that nothing about my background ever had anything to do with any job I got in any place," she said.

An exhaustive investigation by the Boston Globe found no trace of favorable treatment and that employers were mostly unaware of her heritage at the time of her hiring.

The newly revealed Bar registration form says the ethnicity information is "for statistical purposes only."

Still, the controversy has persisted in part because of Warren's own attempts to put it to rest, including by taking the DNA test and making it public, which backfired by angering indigenous activists who viewed it as an attempt to appropriate their culture.

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