For weeks, Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren — derided by conservative opponents as "Fauxcahontas" for her claim to Cherokee and Delaware Indian ancestry — has insisted that she never authorized Harvard to list her as a Native American in its faculty directory.
As it happens, the nation's top schools do not use tribal divination rituals to determine the ethnicity of their faculty for the purpose of creating directories and filing accurate EEOC reports. They rely on self-reporting…
"At some point after I was hired by them, I… provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard," she said in a statement issued by her campaign. "My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I'm proud of it and I have been open about it."
Warren's statement is her first acknowledgment that she identified herself as Native American to the Ivy League schools. While she has said she identified herself as a minority in a legal directory, she has carefully avoided any suggestion during the last month that she took further actions to promote her purported heritage.
Particularly galling is the fact that university administrators would trumpet the hiring of a professor with (at best) 1/32 Cherokee ancestry as a sign of their overwhelmingly white faculties' diversity. It's reminiscent of Rick Santorum's claim that he "came from the coal fields of Pennsylvania," based on the mining career of his immigrant grandfather. By this logic, which turns the clearly white Warren into a Native American and the upper middle class Santorum into a hardscrabble coal miner, I am an Eastern European peasant who spends his days narrowly avoiding rape by Cossack hordes.
Despite the controversies hobbling the Warren campaign, she and her Republican opponent Scott Brown remain locked in a tight race; the latest poll has Brown up by just 1%. Probably because the only thing more mythical than Warren's Native American roots is the idea of a Republican resurgence in Massachusetts.
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Tags: Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts, Native American, Scott Brown