Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

One 'Pocahontas' is Real, The Other Isn't

In a rebuttal to President Trump’s ridiculing of her as “fake Pocahontas,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has released a DNA test that shows “strong evidence” she has Native-American heritage. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s family benefited from a U.S. program for minorities based on the doubtful claim his brother-in-law is Cherokee.


“When I decided to run for Senate in 2012, I never thought that my family’s Native American heritage would come under attack and my dead parents would be called liars,” Warren said, in a statement on Monday.

“And I never expected the president of the United States to use my family’s story as a racist political joke,” she said.

Carlos Bustamante, a professor of genetics at Stanford, and adviser to Ancestry and 23 and me, performed the analysis.

“We find strong evidence that a DNA sample of primarily European descent also contains Native American ancestry from an ancestor in the sample’s pedigree 6-10 generations ago,” Bustamante wrote in an executive summary.

Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, and beyond, Trump has mocked Warren regarding her family’s ancestry. Most recently, in July, at a rally in Montana, he called on her to take an ancestry test to prove her Native American heritage.

But House Majority Leader McCarthy, a Republican from California, has a brother-in-law, William Wages, who has won more than $7 million in no-bid and other federal contracts at U.S. military installations in the state based on the doubtful claim of being Native American, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation.

Although Wages says he is one-eighth Cherokee, the Times’ examination of government and tribal records, along with a leading Cherokee genealogist, casts doubt on that claim. He is a member of a group — Northern Cherokee Nation — that has no federal or state recognition as a legitimate tribe, and is considered a fraud by leaders of federally recognized tribes.

Nevertheless, Wages’ company Vortex Construction obtained contracts for construction projects at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in McCarthy’s Bakersfield-based district, and the Naval Air Station Lemoore. The contracts were awarded through a federal program designed to help disadvantaged minorities.

The Times reports:

“Vortex Construction, whose principal owner is William Wages, the brother of McCarthy’s wife, Judy, received a total of $7.6 million in no-bid and other prime federal contracts since 2000. Vortex faced no competitive bids for most of the contracts because the Small Business Administration accepted Wages’ claim in 1998 that he is a Cherokee Indian.”

Reader Question: Do you think William Wages, principal owner of Vortex Construction, should have applied to get those contracts by claiming he’s Native American

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