Senator Elizabeth Warren apologises to Cherokee Nation for DNA test

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Senator Elizabeth Warren apologises to Cherokee Nation for DNA test

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Image caption Senator Elizabeth Warren has often been taunted by President Trump for her reported native heritage

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has apologised to the Cherokee Nation for taking a DNA test in October to prove her Native American ancestry.

The presidential hopeful called the Cherokee Nation's chief on Thursday to make amends for causing confusion, according to a tribe official.

She has never claimed tribal membership but took the DNA test after a challenge from President Donald Trump.

Ms Warren had previously defended her decision to publicise the DNA results.

The Massachusetts senator faced swift backlash from US tribes and Republicans over the move, which came just before she announced her 2020 presidential bid.

In a statement to US media, Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Julie Hubbard said Ms Warren had apologised during a brief phone call with principal chief Bill John Baker.

"We are 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," Ms Hubbard said.

"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."

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The apology was first reported by The Intercept.

While Ms Warren initially said she had a right to respond to the president's attacks on her background, her change of tune comes as she prepares to visit early voting states ahead of the 2020 election.

Ms Warren had reportedly told advisers she feared she had damaged her relationships with Native American tribes, according to the New York Times.

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Media captionThe US president makes a joke about Senator Elizabeth Warren in front of Native Americans.

The president has repeatedly called Ms Warren a "fake Pocahontas", referencing the daughter of a 17th-Century chief, and has used the taunt in front of Native-Americans.

In an interview with the New York Times on Thursday, Mr Trump said Mrs Warren's credibility had "been hurt very badly with the Pocahontas trap".

"I think she's been hurt badly. I may be wrong, but I think that was a big part of her credibility, and now all of a sudden it's gone."

Ms Warren shared the DNA results after Mr Trump challenged her at a July rally to take a test to prove her indigenous background.

The senator said the test found "strong evidence" of distant Native heritage six to 10 generations back.

But her campaign-style video reveal drew sharp criticism from some tribal leaders and Ms Warren's political rivals.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr had issued a statement shortly after saying: "Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage."

"It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonouring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven."

Ms Warren's Republican opponents were also quick to criticise – Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News he would also take a test to try and "beat" her results.

The row over Ms Warren's heritage dates back years, as Republicans have long accused her of improperly claiming Native American ancestry to further her law career – allegations Ms Warren has denied.

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