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Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio had some brow-raising moments on a recent episode of PBS’ popular “Finding Your Roots” program.
The Republican senator from Florida learned through the show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., that an ancestor on his mother’s side was “pure Native American.”
Gates explained that the set of Native Americans Rubio descended from migrated through the Yucatan Peninsula, as early as 4,000 B.C., The Hill reported prior to the show’s Tuesday airing.
“Talk about ancestral roots in Cuba … your family on your mother’s side has been there a long, long time,” Gates said in a promo video for “Finding Your Roots,” which has garnered a loyal following as it traces the ancestry of famous people.
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“Finding Your Roots” has featured actors like Lupita Nyong’o, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ben Affleck, singer-songwriters such as Carly Simon, Carole King and John Legend, and politicians, including Georgia Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rubio.
Rubio said on the show he had visited ruins in the area, including Chichén Itzá. “Who knew I was going back home?”
Ancestral research revealed that the Native American genetic makeup for Rubio is 4.6 percent. The largest percentage was 92.4 percent European, with minute traces of Sub-Sahara African and North African, with 1.2 percent “unmatched.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who announced a presidential run on the Democratic ticket for the 2020 race, has been feeling the heat for erroneously claiming Native American identity on a 1986 Texas state bar registration card.
Rubio also learned he wasn’t the first lawyer in the family as he long held.
Instead, according to Gates and his researchers’ work, Rubio’s third great-grandfather, José de Reina y Tosta, earned his law degree from Spain’s University of Granada in 1786, and became a public prosecutor in Seville, Orlando Weekly reported.
“I thought I was [the first lawyer.] The first in two centuries,” Rubio said, laughing, with Gates.
Rubio’s parents left Cuba for the United States in 1956.
On Twitter, Rubio, a South Miami Senior High School grad who was born in Miami in 1971, called his Native American heritage “an amazing discovery” and referenced a “famous distant relative” he’s yet to contact to share the revelation.