Host Matt Lauer asked: "We can't talk about the big picture that you have created without talking about the small picture first. Let me just ask you the question in simple terms again because you've sent mixed signals over the years. Are you an African-American woman?"
She replied: "I identify as black."
The 37-year-old went on to say that she was "drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon" as a child and her identity is a "little more complex than me identifying as black".
Dolezal, who resigned her position as president of the NAACP's chapter in Spokane, Washington state, added: "This is not some freak-show, Birth of a Nation blackface performance. This is on a real connected level how I’ve had to go there with the experience."
She expressed regret at in the past not being clearer about her racial identity, but insisted her life had been "one of survival".
The decisions I’ve made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive.
More: [Rachel Dolezal finally speaks out over racial identity controversy]2
More: [This civil rights leader has been accused by her family of falsely claiming she is black]3