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Nikki Haley makes ‘Indian’ jokes about Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the 73rd Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City, New York, Oct. 18, 2018. Mike Segar/Reuters

Outgoing U.S ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made light of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s heritage during a charity dinner Thursday.

The diplomat delivered the keynote address at an event for the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, making jokes about the Democrat senator whose heritage has been the centre of her discord with the president.

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This week, Warren sought to end U.S. President Donald Trump‘s criticisms that she is not actually Native American by taking a DNA test.

The test concluded that Warren has a pure Native American ancestor who probably lived six to 10 generations ago and that it was impossible to determine the individual’s tribal connection.

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Haley, who recently announced she is leaving her UN post at the end of the year, poked fun at the whole situation during her address.

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“I get it, you wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test,” she told the crowd.

She then joked about the president, saying, “Actually, when the president found out that I was Indian-American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren.”

Haley’s parents are from Punjab, India.

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While Haley’s address also poked fun at the president and other members of the Trump administration, her comments on Warren prompted some criticism online.

“How is this okay?” one Twitter user asked of the jokes.

Other Twitter users noted that using the term “Indian” rather than Indigenous or Native American is considered racist.

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“Uh, Nikki, ‘Indian’ women are from INDIA. Are you referring to Native American women?” one person wrote.

The DNA test prompted more racially charged jokes from the president, who has repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas.”

The controversial test was decried by some Indigenous leaders, who said it did not prove anything.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said DNA tests are useless to determine tribal citizenship and don’t distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America.

“Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong,” he said. “Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

— With files from the Associated Press

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