Elizabeth Warren Native American / Cherokee Controversy

One of the greatest controversies surrounding Elizabeth Warren is her claim to be Native American, specifically Cherokee and/or Delaware.

The issue of whether Warren falsely claimed to be Native American was raised during her campaign for United States Senate in 2012, and is an important part of her public political persona because of evidence that the claim was unfounded.

Contents
1 Warren initially denies knowing why Harvard touted her as Native American
2 Bloggers and Reporters uncover Warren's history of claiming to be Native American for employment purposes
3 U. Penn and Harvard Made Federal Filings Based On Warren's Represenations
4 The Genealogical Evidence Shows Warren Has No Native American Ancestry
5 Warren Did Not Start Claiming To Be Native American Until She Was In Her 30's
6 Warren Story About Her Parents' Elopement Cast In Doubt
7 Warren's Aunt Bea and High Cheekbones Story Cast In Doubt
8 Warren Never Associated With Native Americans
9 Boston Globe Defense of Warren
10 Related Pages At Elizabeth Warren Wiki
11 References

Warren initially denies knowing why Harvard touted her as Native American

The controversy was sparked in late April 2012, when the Boston Herald revealed[1] that in the late 1990s Harvard Law School had promoted Warren as a Native American faculty member, based on a report in The Harvard Crimson in 1996[2]:

“Although the conventional wisdom among  students and faculty is that  the Law School faculty includes no minority women,  Chmura said Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren is Native American.”

The Harvard Crimson reported similar information in 1998[3]:

Harvard Law School currently has only one tenured minority woman, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is Native American.

Prior to the Herald report, the public was unaware that Warren claimed to be Cherokee.  In none of the public interviews[4] or testimony she gave prior to that point had Warren revealed that she was Native American.

In the introductory campaign video explaining “Who I Am,”[5]Warren did not mention being Native American.

When confronted by reporters, Warren claimed not to know why Harvard[6] was promoting her as Native American, and said that she only learned of it by reading the newspaper reports.[7]

Bloggers and Reporters uncover Warren's history of claiming to be Native American for employment purposes

Soon after the Boston Herald report, information was uncovered[8] by George Mason University Law School Professor David Bernstein[9] that starting in the mid-1980s, when she was at U.  Penn. Law School, Warren had put herself on the “Minority Law Teacher” list in the faculty directory of the Association of American Law Schools but dropped from that list when she gain tenure at Harvard in 1995.

Warren had not previously revealed these law directory entries.  The AALS directory was used as a recruiting tool[10] by law schools in that time period in order to identify, among other things, minority law professors.

According to Professor David Bernstein[11]:

“In the old days before the Internet, you’d pull out the AALS directory and look up people. There are schools that if they were looking for a minority faculty member, would go to that list and might say, ‘I didn’t know Elizabeth Warren was a minority,’ ” said George Mason University Law professor David Bernstein, a former chairman of the American Association of Law Schools.

Warren aides clammed up yesterday and refused to answer questions about why she stopped listing herself in the AALS directory after 1995. Around that time, Harvard Law School started boasting that Warren was their first minority female professor.

“That appendix strikes me as obviously allowing people to announce themselves as being members of minority groups in case people are looking for such members for whatever reason,” Bernstein said.

When confronted with this information, Warren admitted[12] she had filled out forms listing herself as Native American, claiming she wanted to meet other Native Americans:[13]

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, fending off questions about whether she used her Native American heritage to advance her career, said today she enrolled herself as a minority in law school directories for nearly a decade because she hoped to meet other people with tribal roots.

“I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it and so I stopped checking it off,” said Warren….

“Being Native American has been part of my story I guess since the day I was born,” said Warren, who never mentioned her Native American heritage on the campaign trail even as she detailed much of her personal history to voters in speeches, statements and a video. “These are my family stories, I have lived in a family that has talked about Native American and talked about tribes since I was a little girl.”[14]

That explanation did not make sense[15] because the AALS faculty directory only listed Warren as “minority,” not as “Native American,” so putting herself on that list was not a way to meet other Native Americans.

Later, reporters uncovered that Warren had represented herself to both U. Penn[16] and Harvard for federal reporting purposes[17] as Native American.  Warren herself never disclosed that she had represented herself to U. Penn and Harvard as Native American, that information was discovered by reporters.

The Boston Globe[18] reported that Warren received recognition as a “minority” law professor while at U. Penn Law School:

“The University of Pennsylvania, where Warren  taught at the law school  from 1987 through 1995, listed her as a minority in a “Minority Equity  Report” posted on its website. The report, published in 2005,  well after her departure, included her as the winner of a faculty award in 1994.  Her name was highlighted in bold, the designation used for minorities in the  report.”

Investigative reporter Michael Patrick Leahy of Breitbart.com uncovered that in 1993, when Warren was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, the Harvard Women’s Law Journal included Warren on a list of Women of Color in Legal Academia.[19]  It was the policy of the Law Journal to check with the persons on the list before they were listed.

Politico[20] uncovered that in 1997 The Fordham Law Journal listed Warren as Harvard Law School’s first “woman of color” on the faculty:

“There are few women of color who hold important  positions in the  academy, Fortune 500 companies, or other prominent fields or  industries,” the piece says. “This is not inconsequential. Diversifying  these  arenas, in part by adding qualified women of color to their ranks, remains  important for many reaons. For one, there are scant women of  color as role  models. In my three years at Stanford Law School, there  were no professors who  were women of color. Harvard Law School hired its first woman of color,  Elizabeth Warren, in 1995.”"

Despite the listing of Warren as minority in the AALS Faculty Directly, the knowlege at U. Penn. Law that she was Native American and/or minority, the listing of Warren as a Woman of Color in Legal Academia in 1993, and Warren’s own self-reporting to U.Penn and Havard Law Schools that she was Native American, Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, a member of the hiring committee at the time, has asserted that he was not aware that Warren claimed to be Native American until after she was hired.[21]

Havard Law School has not released[22] the original hiring records to confirm Fried’s recollection.

U. Penn and Harvard Made Federal Filings Based On Warren's Represenations

Warren, did not meet the two part test[23] under Harvard and EEOC definitions of Native American, a definition which likely was on the page[24] when she checked the box.  That definition requires both actual Native American ancestry and cultural identification through tribal affiliation or comunity recognition.

Warren did not meet either part of the test, and even if she believed her alleged family lore, Warren should have known that she could not show cultural identification.  Warren has refused to release[25] her personnel records which would contain the forms she signed.

Warren admitted that she did not meet the legal qualifications to be considered a racial minority[26]

Q.  But you would not call yourself a racial minority?

A.  The legal qualifications, no.

Harvard and U. Penn also refuse to release[27] these employment records.

As reported by The Boston Globe,[28] Warren’s self-identification as Native American may have caused U. Penn. [29] and Harvard Law Schools to make false federal filings[30] with regard to faculty diversity.  Neither organization will release the records.

The Genealogical Evidence Shows Warren Has No Native American Ancestry

Detailed genealogical investigation by a group of Cherokee genealogists[31] showed that Warren had no Cherokee or other Native American ancestry.  The findings are set forth at the blog Thoughts From Polly’s Grandaughter[32] which based the research on over one hundred primary sources,[33] and detailed the findings:

The  team and I have done an exhaustive search on the genealogy of Elizabeth Warren.  We have researched ALL of her ancestral lines, but have only posted those she  claimed were Indian here in the blog. None of her direct line ancestors are ever  shown to be anything other than white, dating back to long before the Trail of  Tears.

The findings were detailed in the following posts, among others:

Warren herself represented that both her mother[34] and her Aunt Bea[35] were white on death certificates filed with the State of Oklahoma.

Initial claims by a genealogist in Boston that Warren was 1/32 Cherokee were withdrawn[36] as lacking evidence.[37] The Boston Globe had promoted the news that Warren was 1/32 Cherokee, but when the lack of evidence was discovered, The Boston Globe printed the correction in a section of the paper[38] unlikely to be noticed by the public.

All known evidence shows that Warren’s family always self-identified as white, and her great grandfather even was identified in local newspapers as white when it was reported that he shot an Indian.[39]

Warren Did Not Start Claiming To Be Native American Until She Was In Her 30's

Time and again Warren says she never asked[40] her parents for documentation, and even made that argument part of her campaign.[41]

Yet Warren did not identify as Native American as a child or when applying to college or law school.  Instead Warren waited until her late 30′s, around the time she joined the U. Penn. Law School, and then used that identification only in connection with establishing herself for employment purposes as a minority.

Warren’s explanation has been criticized[42](emphasis in original):

What does being a kid have to  do with getting documentation? Ms. Warren’s parents didn’t die until the 1990s.  She was an adult longer than she was a child during their lives. Are we to  assume being Indian was such an important part of their lives[43]it was never mentioned during  her adulthood?

So she didn’t ask for documentation as a child  because children don’t think to do those things. Ok, we will give her that, but what is her excuse for not asking for documentation in 1986 when she was 37  years old BEFORE she started listing herself as a minority in the legal  directoriesHer mother was still alive.  Ms. Warren’s mother, Pauline Reed Herring, the purported Indian, died in 1995.[44] At that time, Ms. Warren was 46 years old. She wasn’t a child any longer and she had already claimed to be a minority in legal directories for nine years, starting in 1986….[45]

Elizabeth Warren listed  herself as a minority without proof  for 9 years while her mother was  alive.  Asking for documentation as a child had nothing to do with it.

Warren Story About Her Parents' Elopement Cast In Doubt

Warren asserted that her parents had to elope because of hostility from her father’s family to her mother’s Cherokee and Delaware ancestry.  This anti-Indian sentiment from her father’s family was so severe that it lasted, according to Warren, throughout the marriage and “it was an issue still raised at my mother’s funeral.”[46]

This lore, according to Warren, was a fundamental part[47] of her family experience.  “I’m not backing off from my family,”[48] Warren has declared.

The is no evidence of Warren telling that elopement story in public, even when she discussed her childhood in great detail,[49] prior to The Boston Herald report and subsequent disclosures that she reported herself as Native American for various law professor employment-related purposes.

This story of elopement was cast into doubt[50] when research from Cherokee genealogists[51] uncovered that Warren’s parents were married in 1932 in a church not far from their home town by a respected and prominent pastor, who was unlikely to have performed ceremonies for runaways seeking to elope.  The witness on the marriage certificate[52] was a family friend.

Additinally, records were recovered inticating that Warren’s parents then immediately returned home where their marriage was announced in the local paper in a celebratory fashion,[53] with extensive descriptions of the prominence of the two families in the local business community.  The announcement mentions that the marriage was a surprise to many of the young couple’s friends, but said nothing about it being a surprise to family.

The marriage of Donald Herring and Miss Pauline Reed, two of Wetumka’s most popular young people, came as a surprise to many of their friend when they returned from Holdenville late Saturday afternoon and announced their marriage.

Both of the young people were reared in Wetumka and are popular members of the younger set.

Specifically as to Warren’s mother, the announcement detailed:

Mrs. Herring is the daughter of H.G. Reed, building contractor of this city, and has always been prominent in the social and church activities of the younger people and being a gifted singer has identified herself with the music lovers of the community.

The announcement then indicated that the couple are returning separately to their respective colleges for the next semester, and concluded:

The Gazette joins a host of friends in wishing for these young people a long and happy life together.

Warren’s own adult nephew, Mark Herring, when documenting family genealogy in 2002, called claims of Native American ancestry a rumor.[54]

Historical evidence also indicates that Warren’s ancestors were afraid of Indians[55] and her great grandfather even shot an Indian, which was announced in the local paper.[56]

Warren's Aunt Bea and High Cheekbones Story Cast In Doubt

Warren asserted that her Aunt Bea told stories about the family having high cheekbones:[57]

Yet records uncovered by Cherokee genealogists[58] showed that Warren herself represented Aunt Bee[59] to be white on her death certificate:

Warren Never Associated With Native Americans

Warren asserted on numerous occasions during the campaign that being Native American was a fundamental and important part of who she was and that she would not walk away from her family’s heritage.  Yet at no point during her life did Warren affiliate with any Native American tribe, join any Native American organizations on campus or elsewhere, or in any way interact with any Native American community.

Warren only represented herself as Native American for employment purposes starting in the mid-1980s, then dropped that representation after gaining tenure at Harvard Law School in the mid-1990s.

Nonetheless, Warren insisted during the campaign that believed that she was Cherokee based on family lore,[60] but that family lore (including the story of her parents’ elopement)[61] was substantially[62] did not hold up to scrutiny by Cherokee genealogists[63]:

Boston Globe Defense of Warren

On September 15, 2012, The Boston Globe ran a 3,000 word lead article[64] regarding Warren’s supposed Native American ancestry.  This article is a primary source to which Warren defenders turn to support Warren’s claim of Native American ancestry and family lore.

Warren’s extended family has mixed opinions on the Native American question. The stories shared by Mapes, as well as Warren’s brothers and a number of her cousins, echo Warren’s assertion. But other cousins, some of whom also do not know Warren, say they know nothing of Native American blood in the family. According to one family biography, on file at the California State University at Fullerton, one of Warren’s relatives once shot at an Indian.

Months after the political flare-up, Warren and some of her family members remain unwilling to provide details on the subject. In a lengthy interview, Warren referred to stories about her roots that she says were frequently told at family gatherings in her native Oklahoma, but declined to share virtually any of them. “I knew it was part of our family,” Warren said. “It was part of what we talked about. . . . It was just part of who we were.”

The story was written with the cooperation of the Warren campaign, which made certain people from Warren’s background available to The Globe, and came just days before the first debate in Massachusetts’ Senate race.

A detailed analysis of The Globe article actually called Warren’s family lore stories into question, because among other things, Warren’s claim in the article was focused on a different family line than originally claimed.[65]:

Yet when one digs down into the actual facts in the Globe story, it actually is quite devastating to Warren, proving that contrary to her many recent accounts, Native American ancestry was not central to her life at any time prior to the mid-1980s when she claimed “Minority Law Teacher” status in a national law faculty directory….

Related Pages At Elizabeth Warren Wiki

In addition to the information above, the following pages at this Wiki contain additional information regarding the Native American / Cherokee Controversy:

References

  1. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren is what?Legal Insurrection, Apr. 27, 2012
  2. ^ Theresa J. Chung, Survey: Diversity Lacking At HLSThe Harvard Crimson, Oct. 22, 1996
  3. ^ Crimson Staff, Welcome GuinierThe Harvard Crimson, Feb. 4, 1998
  4. ^ Harry Kreisler, Elizabeth Warren Interview: Conversations with
    History
    Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley, Oct. 4, 2012
  5. ^ Elizabeth Warren Campaign, Elizabeth Warren - First Ad: Who I AmYouTube, Nov. 13, 2011
  6. ^ Fred Thys, Warren Doesn’t Know How Harvard Came To List Her As Native AmericanWBUR, May 9, 2012
  7. ^ Mary Carmichael and Stephanie Ebbert, Warren says she told schools of heritageThe Boston Globe, May 31, 2012
  8. ^ David Bernstein, Elizabeth Warren Herself Claimed Minority StatusThe Volokh Conspiracy, Apr. 28, 2012
  9. ^ George Mason Univ. School of Law, David Bernstein BioGeorge Mason Univ. School of Law, 2013
  10. ^ Noah Bierman, Records shed more light on Elizabeth Warren’s minority statusThe Boston Globe, May 10, 2012
  11. ^ Hillary Chabot and Chris Cassidy, Law prof: Elizabeth Warren’s boast an edgeThe Boston Herald, May 2, 2012
  12. ^ William A. Jacobson, Confirmed - Elizabeth Warren knowingly self-identified as Native American on law association formsLegal Insurrection, Apr. 30, 2012
  13. ^ Hillary Chabot, Warren: I used minority listing to share heritageBoston Herald, May 2, 2012
  14. ^ Hillary Chabot, Warren: I used minority listing to share heritageThe Boston Herald, May 2, 2012
  15. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren claims listed herself as minority to meet people but story doesn't hold upLegal Insurrection, May 2, 2012
  16. ^ William A. Jacobson, Univ. Penn. Law also identified Elizabeth Warren as minorityLegal Insurrection, May 10, 2012
  17. ^ William A. Jacobson, It's Elizabeth Warren's and Harvard's federal filings, stupidLegal Insurrection, May 31, 2012
  18. ^ Noah Bierman, Records shed more light on Elizabeth Warren’s minority statusThe Boston Globe, May 10, 2012
  19. ^ Michael Patrick Leahy, Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren Listed as 'Woman of Color' by Harvard Journal in 1993Breitbart, May 25, 2012
  20. ^ Maggie Haberman, Fordham piece called Warren Harvard Law's 'first woman of color'Politico, May 15, 2012
  21. ^ Michael Patrick Leahy, What Did Harvard Know About Elizabeth 'Woman of Color' Warren, and When Did They Know It?Breitbart, May 30, 2012
  22. ^ Noah Bierman, Records shed more light on Elizabeth Warren’s minority statusThe Boston Globe, May 10, 2012
  23. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren dare not show the box she checkedLegal Insurrection, Oct. 10, 2012
  24. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren dare not show the box she checkedLegal Insurrection, Oct. 10, 2012
  25. ^ Hillary Chabot, Brown camp pressing Warren for law school recordsBoston Herald, Jul. 17, 2012
  26. ^ WCVBtv, Elizabeth Warren: I know who I amYouTube, June 1, 2012
  27. ^ Noah Bierman, Records shed more light on Elizabeth Warren’s minority statusThe Boston Globe, May 10, 2012
  28. ^ Mary Carmichael, Filings raise more questions on Warren’s ethnic claimsThe Boston Globe, May 25, 2012
  29. ^ Noah Bierman, Records shed more light on Elizabeth Warren’s minority statusThe Boston Globe, May 10, 2012
  30. ^ William A. Jacobson, Univ. Penn. Law also identified Elizabeth Warren as minorityLegal Insurrection, May 10, 2012
  31. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, 2012 - Year in ReviewThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Dec. 31, 2012
  32. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Home PageThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Jan. 27, 2013
  33. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Sources - Elizabeth Warren GenealogyThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Oct. 29, 2012
  34. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Elizabeth Warren's Mother Listed as White on Death CertificateThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Jul. 5, 2012
  35. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Elizabeth Warren Said Aunt Bea Was WhiteThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Jul. 2, 2012
  36. ^ William A. Jacobson, Boston Globe buries correction of Elizabeth Warren 1/32 Cherokee claimLegal Insurrection, May 15, 2012
  37. ^ William A. Jacobson, Is prestigious genealogical society throwing media under the bus on Warren 1/32 Cherokee claimLegal Insurrection, May 14, 2012
  38. ^ William A. Jacobson, Boston Globe buries correction of Elizabeth Warren 1/32 Cherokee claimLegal Insurrection, May 15, 2012
  39. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren's white great grandfather shot an IndianLegal Insurrection, Oct. 4, 2012
  40. ^ CBS Boston, More Questions About Warren’s Native American Heritage ClaimsCBS Boston, Jul. 3, 2012
  41. ^ Elizabeth Warren Campaign, Elizabeth Warren for MA | TV Ad: FamilyYouTube, Sep. 24, 2012
  42. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, There's a Problem With Warren's Indian AnswerThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Aug. 10, 2012
  43. ^ Brian McGrory, Warren: I won’t deny who I amThe Boston Globe, Jun. 1, 2012
  44. ^ Danny Chancellor, Find A Grave, Feb. 20, 2011
  45. ^ Hillary Chabot, Warren: I used minority listing to share heritageBoston Herald, May 2, 2012
  46. ^ NECN, Elizabeth Warren Grilled On Native American ClaimsYouTube, Jul. 2, 2012
  47. ^ Brian McGrory, Warren: I won’t deny who I amThe Boston Globe, Jun. 1, 2012
  48. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren: I'm not backing off from my family on Cherokee claimLegal Insurrection, Jun. 14, 2012
  49. ^ UCTV, Conversations with History: Elizabeth WarrenYouTube, Jan. 10, 2008
  50. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren elopement story falls apartLegal Insurrection, Aug. 16, 2012
  51. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Dissecting a Family Myth - Elizabeth WarrenThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Oct. 5, 2012
  52. ^ Blogspot, Herring Reed Marriage CertificateBlogspot, Jan. 28, 2013
  53. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, When Is An Elopement Not An Elopement?Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Aug. 8, 2012
  54. ^ William A. Jacobson, Exclusive - Elizabeth Warren relative researched ancestry, called Indian claim a rumorLegal Insurrection, Jul. 11, 2012
  55. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Elizabeth Warren - Who Do You Think You Are? Part 2Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Aug. 17, 2012
  56. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren's white great grandfather shot an IndianLegal Insurrection, Oct. 4, 2012
  57. ^ Rob Capriccioso, Cherokee Women Try To Meet With Elizabeth Warren; Campaign Offends ThemIndian Country Today Media Network, Jun. 20, 2012
  58. ^ Thoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Elizabeth Warren Said Aunt Bea Was WhiteThoughts From Polly's Granddaughter, Jul. 2, 2012
  59. ^ William A. Jacobson, Serious doubt cast on Elizabeth Warren's Aunt Bea high cheekbones storyLegal Insurrection, Jul. 2, 2012
  60. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren: I'm not backing off from my family on Cherokee claimLegal Insurrection, Jun. 14, 2012
  61. ^ William A. Jacobson, More evidence debunking Elizabeth Warren's elopement storyLegal Insurrection, Oct. 5, 2012
  62. ^ William A. Jacobson, Boston Globe unintentionally proves Elizabeth Warren's ethnic fraudLegal Insurrection, Sep. 16, 2012
  63. ^ William A. Jacobson, Elizabeth Warren elopement story falls apartLegal Insurrection, Aug. 16, 2012
  64. ^ Sally Jacobs, Elizabeth Warren’s family has mixed memories about heritageThe Boston Globe, Sep. 15, 2012
  65. ^ William A. Jacobson, Boston Globe unintentionally proves Elizabeth Warren's ethnic fraudLegal Insurrection, Sep. 16, 2012
Last Updated: September 8th, 2013