Does Elizabeth Warren Really Have Cherokee Ancestry?

Warren The ancestry of Democrat Elizabeth Warren is still a topic that is raising questions. A few months ago, a genealogist determined that Warren did, really, have Cherokee ancestry. Shortly after that, there were blogs that stated that there wasn’t any credible evidence that this was so. Now, another genealogist says that Elizabeth Warren really doesn’t have Cherokee ancestry.

In Massachusetts, the current Senator is Scott Brown, who is a Republican. Elizabeth Warren, who is a Democrat, is running against him for the Senate seat he currently holds. The winner will be decided in the 2012 election.

It has become common for political candidates to question the heritage of the candidate who is running against him. In Massachusetts, the question is about the family tree of Elizabeth Warren. Does she really have Cherokee ancestry? If not, then the implication is that she has been lying about her minority status, (perhaps as a way to further her career).

A genealogist from the New England Historic and Genealogy Society named Christopher Child did some genealogy research. He claimed to find evidence that Elizabeth Warren really does have Cherokee ancestry through her great-great-great grandmother, a woman named O.C. Sarah Smith. He found a 1894 marriage license for Smith’s son, and it had O.C. Sarah Smith listed as a Cherokee on it. This would make Elizabeth Warren 1 / 32 American Indian (specifically, of the Cherokee nation).

Later, a news article from the Boston Herald pointed out that what genealogist Christopher Child found was actually an electronic transcript of the marriage certificate he mentioned. Some are not accepting it as evidence unless the actual record is located, or a photographic copy of the actual record is discovered.

Recently, another genealogist has spoken about this situation. There is a genealogist who writes a blog called “Thoughts From Polly’s Granddaughter”. The blogger is a woman who has been studying Cherokee history and genealogy for a long time, and is registered with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is someone who is knowledgable enough to help other people with their genealogy research, to help them discover if they have an ancestor who is a Cherokee.

If you are interested, you can read several blogs posts on “Thoughts From Polly’s Granddaughter” that go over, in great detail, exactly why the blogger believes that Elizabeth Warren does not have Cherokee ancestry. It is fascinating!

Right now, it appears that Elizabeth Warren doesn’t really have Cherokee ancestry after all. I can understand why her claims of having an ancestor who was Cherokee, when she didn’t, would bother people. What I don’t entirely understand is why the heritage of political candidates is something that is so strongly emphasized today. Aren’t there bigger issues to be concerned about?

Image by Edward Kimmel on Flickr