Now that Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren has stolen the title of America’s Most Famous Fake Indian from Ward Churchill, you might be wondering how real Cherokee feel about this wheezy academic fraud using their heritage to score herself some sweet “diversity” benefits. It would appear they are not amused.
Blogger William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection, who was among the first to wonder why anybody should take Warren’s word for even her pathetic claim of 3 percent Indian blood without solid documentation, got in touch with genealogist Twila Barnes, who is 7/32 Cherokee and – very conspicuously unlike Warren – actually does stay active in Cherokee affairs.
Barnes has her own blog, called Thoughts From Polly’s Granddaughter, and after dealing with a family emergency, she found the time to publish a scathing open letter to Warren. Barnes’ missive should be read in full by clicking the link above, but here’s a particularly interesting passage:
We wonder why you believe you have the right to claim Cherokee ancestry and to call yourself a Native American when you have no evidence to support your claim. While you cling to a family story and the inaccurate report that ONE document was found that supports your claim, we real Cherokee understand that those things mean nothing.
You see, we Cherokees have lots and lots and lots of documentation supporting our claims of ancestry. Our Cherokee ancestors are found on every roll of the Cherokee Nation (30+ rolls!) dating back to before the remove and in all sorts of other documentation, including but not limited to claims against the US government for lost property; the Moravian missionary records; ration lists before and after the forced removal, etc… yet your ancestors are found in NONE of these records.
That’s a very pertinent point, which ties directly into the larger issue I believe the Warren story illuminates: our society places an increasing degree of emphasis on credentials, but many of those credentials are surprisingly easy to fake. For some reason, our high-tech, information-saturated society can still be persuaded to tolerate absurdities like Warren’s vaporous affirmative action claims, or opposition to sensible voter ID laws.
The notion of having to pull out paperwork from 1840 to prove Warren is a “woman of color” (as she was, hilariously, described by Harvard Law’s news director in a 1997 Fordham Law Review article) is absurd on its face, but someone with an actual Cherokee great-great-great-grandmother shouldn’t really have much trouble producing such papers, because the Cherokee saga was very well-documented.
You would think someone at a major American university would have known that, or at the very least someone at Harvard Law would have meditated upon the concept of “burden of proof,” as Barnes needles in her letter.
After publishing her letter, Barnes discussed Warren in a radio interview: “It’s like she’s stepping on the backs of Cherokee people to get what it is that she wants.” She’s working with other genealogists to produce a more authoritative report on Warren’s true family history. Meanwhile, liberals keep insisting Warren deserves a pass: it’s “old news,” she was a good teacher at Harvard, there are more important issues to discuss in the Massachusetts Senate race.
But Warren’s entire hard-Left philosophy is based on the idea that certain people benefit unfairly from communal resources, and must be punished. That’s what made her famous, remember? She gave a videotaped lecture insisting that Evil Rich People are unfairly profiting from the use of public resources, without which nobody could possibly achieve success in life. Affirmative-action fraud sounds like the kind of thing that would make her boil with rage… if anyone lacking the proper political credentials got caught doing it.
Update: Another aspect of this scandal is that Warren initially tried to deny that she ever passed herself off as a Native American. The documentation of her shameless lies keeps piling up. Here’s a new piece to chew on: one of the “items of evidence” introduced in her increasingly desperate claims to Cherokee heritage was a 1984 cookbook entitled “Pow Wow Chow,” edited by her first cousin.
The Boston Herald got its hands on a copy of this book, and discovered that Warren contributed several recipes. Each of them is credited to “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee.” They sound rather tasty, and while I find myself doubting the authenticity of the “crab with tomato mayonnaise dressing,” I will humbly defer to the judgment of people like Twila Barnes on whether such dishes were traditionally served at Cherokee gatherings.