Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender, identified her race as “American Indian” on her 1986 State Bar of Texas registration card to practice law in the state, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The card, filled out in blue ink and dated April 1986, is the first reported document to show Warren declaring herself American Indian in her own handwriting.
A source involved with Warren’s exploration of a 2020 campaign did not dispute the card’s authenticity. The card was not part of her application to the bar, the source told HuffPost; she had already been admitted when she filled it out.
Warren has come under fire in recent years over her claims of Native American ancestry. Following mockery from President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, Warren released the results of a DNA test in October that showed the “vast majority” of her ancestry is European but that she had a distant relative who is Native American.
Her decision to release the DNA test results prompted backlash from Republicans and Democrats, as well as the Cherokee Nation, which called the test “inappropriate and wrong.”
“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.”
Warren last week personally apologized to the Cherokee Nation for the DNA test debacle.
Cherokee Nation executive director of communications Julie Hubbard said in a statement that the tribe was “encouraged by this dialogue and understanding that being a Cherokee Nation tribal citizen is rooted in centuries of culture and laws not through DNA tests.”
“We are encouraged by her action and hope that the slurs and mockery of tribal citizens and Indian history and heritage will now come to an end,” Hubbard said.
In an interview with the Post published Tuesday, Warren said she’s sorry for identifying herself as Native American for nearly two decades.
The apology, she told the Post, included regret for having called herself Native American during her tenure at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard University, and having labeled herself as a minority in the Association of American Law Schools directory. Despite her history of self-identifying as Native American, Warren has maintained that she “never used” the ancestry claim to advance her career.
“I can’t go back,” she said. “But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”
Warren told the Post that her conversation last week with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker included a broader apology for having called herself Native American.
“I told him I was sorry for furthering confusion about tribal citizenship,” Warren said. “I am also sorry for not being more mindful about this decades ago. We had a good conversation.”
The Cherokee Nation did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment for this story.
This article has been updated to include comments from a source involved in Warren’s 2020 exploration.