Harvard Law School has notably bragged about its first “American Indian” hire back in 1996, Elizabeth Warren. Only one problem: she’s not Indian–certainly not in the demonstrable, legal sense, like all “real” Indians have to demonstrate. She claimed to have ancestry among the Cherokee and the Delaware, but none has been found by professional researchers.
Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren. Did
her claim to be Indian allow her to be hired?
She claims that she had no idea that it was obviously the reason she was hired, insisting instead that she was hired for her qualifications. She even pretends not to know about the Crimson articles that bragged about her “Native American” status.
Would one of those ‘qualifications be a willingness to be regarded as something you’re not, legally? To allow yourself to be a significant statistic, falsely? This is law school, now. Not an acting class.
“For years, Harvard has claimed special minority status for Professor Elizabeth Warren as a member of a Native American tribe and their first minority hire,” said Jim Barnett, campaign manager for Brown. “That Warren allowed Harvard to hold her up as an example of their commitment to diversity in the hiring of historically disadvantaged communities is an insult to all Americans who have suffered real discrimination and mistreatment, and Warren should apologize for participating in this hypocritical sham.”
Warren has not provided any documentation on her Native American heritage, but says, “These are my family stories. “This is our lives and I am very proud of that.” She added she does not “recall” ever using her Native American heritage when applying for a job.
This is all a matter of record, and can easily be clarified, and I’m sure it will be.
As the Herald first reported today, Harvard law school prominently touted Warren’s American Indian “background” in an effort to beef up their diversity hiring stats in the ’90s. The school had come under heavy fire back then for a faculty that was then predominantly white and male. They needed a female minority.
Elizabeth Warren, with Barry Soetoro. Kindred
identity styles? Both very much at home in
‘Hollywood’ Harvard. Bloomberg Photo.
And so it goes, again, and again. Whites being proud of some family story about Indian blood in the family. It was enough to get Ward Churchill a six-figure salary as University of Colorado. It apparently got Elizabeth Warren a professorship on the Harvard Law faculty.
Obviously, liberals prefer whites to Indians. That’s the observation to make.
The benefits of being Indian are interesting, when you’re white. The advantage of being American Indian can be very serious, if your not Indian. If you are Indian, it may not even matter, especially if you are a “conservative” Indian. I was the first American Indian at Yale Divinity. It was definitely something I claimed on my application. I was later told it had no effect on admission. Diversity conscious as Yale is, an Indian at YDS was never made into a point by anyone, for any reason. I’m sure my political positions of the last decade are an embarrassment to the school, and some YDS administrators (faculty and graduates) might think, “Yes, Yeagley was the first Indian–and we pray the last!”
The Herald has posted a sympathetic note for Warren, stating how difficult it is for some people to prove their Indian heritage. Right. Especially when it comes from tribes long ago extinct or absorbed into other tribes. Especially when it is comes from tribes who have no blood quantum requirement, but only genetic ties. Especially when the tribe never even made any agreements with the US government. Why, there are plenty of tribes to pick from. Just open an 18th century history book, and pick one. That’s basically today’s Mashantucket Pequot club did. (Somehow, they all turned out to be Negro, yet, they have the largest resort casino in the world.)
Those professionals who have researched Warren say there is no one in her family tree that every claimed to be Indian. This is a case of family lore that the family obviously cherished. There are innumerable American families that have such stories, particularly in the Eastern states, and in the New England states. Indians don’t begrudge such stories. It is honorable that white people should want to claim to have Indian blood. White Americans generally love the idea of having such lineage. It apparently makes them feel more “American.” Something about it is quite cherished.
The case of Warren is personal, certainly, but it does involve an appearance of falsehood, not something that is flattering to a law professor. Her family stories are just that, family stories. All families have a right to such lore in their lines. That such should affect her professionally–when there are numerous American Indians, male and female, who have law degrees, and should have been hired, is in fact shameful.
Senator Brown’s campaign has demanded Warren apologize for allowing Harvard to claim she was part Native American. Yes, Warren should “apologize” for this fraudulent claim, and for its serious offense to American Indians, lawyers or no. Whether or not it affected her hiring at Harvard Law, she certainly made no effort to squelch the schools public use of her claim after she was hired.
As it stands, I’m afraid Professor Warren is another “white” Indian mascot. It isn’t so flattering when it cost a real Indian a good job.
NOTE: Elizabeth Herring Warren is a native of Oklahoma City, and a life-long Democrat. She graduated from the same high school I did! Well, at least she didn’t claim to be Comanche. Half the state claims to be part Cherokee. I think a lot of that’s true, too.