Harvard law professor and Democratic senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has run into a flap over her claims that she's a Native American:
Desperately scrambling to validate Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage amid questions about whether she used her minority status to further her career, the Harvard Law professor’s campaign last night finally came up with what they claim is a Cherokee connection — her great-great-great-grandmother.
“She would be 1⁄32nd of Elizabeth Warren’s total ancestry,” noted genealogist Christopher Child said, referring to the candidate’s great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, who is listed on an Oklahoma marriage certificate as Cherokee. Smith is an ancestor on Warren’s mother’s side, Child said.
The missing link comes after Warren’s embattled campaign faced sharp questions about her Native American background in the wake of Herald stories that showed both Harvard Law School and Warren herself had touted her tribal lineage and claimed she was a member of a minority for years.
Here's the part that grabbed my eye, however:
Warren’s shaken campaign faced another crisis yesterday when it was revealed that beginning in 1986 and continuing through 1995, Warren had listed herself as a minority professor in the Association of American Law Schools desk book, a directory of law professors from participating schools.
I don't know how they do things at Harvard, but everywhere I've taught, the Dean's office has given me the form used to compile the AALS directory and told me to fill it out. I decided a long time ago to refuse to disclose my race/ethnicity.
Even if Warren's form was filled out by an administrator or her assistant, surely she would at least have reviewed it.
The logical inference is that the source of the claim is Warren herself. As Walter Jacobson reports:
Since AALS bases such information solely on what faculty self-reports, the information must have come from Warren herself. The AALS directories, however, only identify whether the faculty member is “minority,” not what minority status is claimed.
There seems to be some uncertainty in news reports as to whether Warren filled out the AALS forms, and if so, whether she identified as Native American, with the Brown campaign demanding that she “come clean.”
I spoke this afternoon with Alethea Harney, Warren’s campaign press secretary, and confirmed several key details.
Harney acknowledged that the minority status reported by Warren to AALS was Native American, and that while Warren does not remember the precise forms, she believes there was a box or other designation to be selected for Native American.
The AALS reporting was the only time Warren self-identified as Native American as far as Warren currently is aware, according to Harney, and Warren never has joined any Native American groups, or asserted any tribal memberships.
Was Warren trying to take advantage of affirmative action programs? Or were her schools eager to count her as a minority so as to boost their diversity headcount? As Ann Althouse observes:
Harvard was under a lot of pressure at that time to do something about the lack of racial diversity on the faculty, and I'm skeptical of the claim that Warren's minority status never came up during the hiring process.
In any case, Jacobson also opines:
How ironic that the new liberal lioness has resorted to counting drops of blood for her self-identification.