Elizabeth Warren's Tribe, and Mine

The Massachusetts Senate candidate is not the only person who got into Harvard under false pretenses.

I can really empathize with Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate who may owe her connection with Harvard to the school's belief that she was Native American. I don't say this because I'm a particularly empathetic person. I say it because I may owe my connection with Harvard to the school's belief that I was Native American.

It seems that the school started claiming it had a Native American on the law faculty when Warren arrived as a visiting professor in 1992 and kept doing so once she got a tenured job.

The claim strikes some people as odd, since she doesn't look Indian, doesn't have an Indian name, didn't grow up on a reservation and is not a registered member of any tribe. But Warren says it has long been a part of family lore.

She had said she was not aware the university was identifying her as a minority, but after weeks of unflattering publicity, she issued a statement Wednesday acknowledging she had told Harvard officials she had Cherokee roots. She also says -- and school officials confirm -- that her purported ethnic makeup played no role in her hiring, even though Harvard was under pressure to boost its minority numbers.

I can only say I have good reason to prefer Warren's version. Back in 1971, in my senior year of high school, I took the SAT. When the results came, they included my score along with name, birth date, home address and the like. There was also a line for ethnicity -- and mine was "American Indian."

This came as a surprise to me, a green-eyed Presbyterian suburbanite with an English name. Now, it's true that, like Warren, my relatives have been known to say there was a Cherokee way back on our family tree, but it's one of those things that no one has ever bothered to verify for fear that it might be untrue.

I got a laugh out of my racial classification but figured it was a harmless clerical error. I didn't know how I could get the SAT folks to correct the mistake, which didn't seem worth the trouble anyway. I went ahead with my college applications, and the following April, I found myself unexpectedly admitted to the Harvard class of 1976.

Unlike Warren, I never told anyone at Harvard about my great-uncle Runs Screaming from the Room. After applying, I had to undergo an interview with a local alum, who didn't ask me if I was Indian. I may have figured the answer was obvious and that the admissions folks were smart enough -- I mean, this is Harvard, right? -- to realize I wasn't.

And truth is, I didn't really want to go there. I applied only because my sister pestered me to. Not until the day the letter arrived did it cross my mind that the admissions people would actually let me in.

I have often wondered why I was accepted. People familiar with my high school GPA and SAT score have asked me the same thing, usually in a tone of exaggerated incredulity. I was not an academic whiz. Nor was I a star athlete or musical prodigy. I had no relatives who were alumni.

I naturally assumed the admissions officials had identified some intangible quality that would profoundly enrich the intellectual environment of Cambridge. Or that I had impressed them with the looks and charm that had been lost on my high school classmates, particularly the female ones. But maybe Harvard was just determined to boost its minority numbers and saw that I could help.

Why my ostensible American Indian heritage didn't count with the other schools I applied to, I can't say. Four of the other five rejected me -- including Dartmouth, whose website claims it was "founded in 1769 with a mission to educate Indian students."

Maybe the people running Dartmouth had secretly abandoned that mission. Maybe they had enough Native Americans already. Maybe they took me for a brazen fraud.

No one at Harvard had that reaction to me, or to Warren. She is sticking to her guns, saying in her Wednesday statement, "My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I'm proud of it and I have been open about it."

That sounds like the right approach. Maybe it's not too late for me to try it.

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  • Killazontherun||

    So, Chapman is a phoney too? BIG SURPRISE!

  • Brandybuck||

    He's also a Secret Muslim Kenyan.

  • ||

    I will never see her face or hear her name again without thinking what one commenter here ( sorry guys but I can never remember who said what ) called her;

    Fauxcahontas.

    Solid gold.

  • PapayaSF||

    That may have been me.

  • ||

    So it was. Again, solid gold. Kudos to you Papaya.

  • Barfman||

    It's hardly the same thing. You never told anyone you were Native American, you just didn't bother correcting a minor mistake.

  • Killazontherun||

    Why my ostensible American Indian heritage didn't count with the other schools I applied to, I can't say. Four of the other five rejected me -- including Dartmouth, whose website claims it was "founded in 1769 with a mission to educate Indian students."

    Or, you know, you could have have concentrated on being more meritorious in your life. As a honky with a Spanish surname, I could have totally used it to my favor, and there were occasions when administrators suggested for me to do so, but whenever given the choice on college and job applications, I checked white like every other blue eyed devil. Why? Because Affirmative Action is disgusting and contemptible to anyone with even a thread of decency.

  • tarran||

    I check 'Other' and write in Human.

    Make them waste time entering in the data (for docs being scanned by machine, checking other kicks it out to a human data enterer).

  • Killazontherun||

    This time in all sincerity, cool story, bro'.

  • R C Dean||

    I never specify any kind of racial category on any form. Period.

  • Killazontherun||

    I got the feeling at least in one case, a definite feeling, that if I did that they would have gone in later to check what they wanted to pad a stat in their favor.

  • Agammamon||

    Navy did that for me when I re-enlisted after a short break in service.

    I was entered as a white hispanic or some crap (I think this is supposed to cover Italians or something) even though I've got less hispanic in me than Warren has cherokee.

    But the recuiter got his quota for the month and I didn't care - as a matter of fact, once a yeat I logged on and changed my ethnicity in my service record.

  • Mensan||

    A lot of the forms I've seem recently have an option for "Decline to answer" or something to that effect. I always select that or just leave it blank.

  • BarryD||

    I am here today only because my great grandfather didn't leave a paper trail of his ethnicity. Seriously. You never know about these things.

  • aelhues||

    I do something similar. I check other, and write in Welsh. I figure, many people wouldn't even know what Welsh is, and it is my direct patriarchal lineage.

    I'm opposed to categorizing us by race. So that way, I'm not being disingenuous, but am hopefully screwing up their numbers in my own small way.

  • Loki||

    I always check "Decline to Self Identify" or whatever the "none of your business, fuck off" option is. Of course, I might as well just go ahead and check white male. It's pretty much the same thing.

    Although I do allegedly have Cherokee and Choctaw hertitage in my bloodline somewhere, so maybe I should start checking Native American. I'll probably get more job offers that way.

  • sloopyinca||

    As a honky with a Spanish surname,

    You're like the bizarro George Zimmerman.

    Bad-bye.

  • tarran||

    There's a new story out that she made several 100K buying and selling houses during the real estate bubble - including loaning money to her siblings at 24% per annum.

    That's going to be the next story which dings her up with the locals. The socially conservative Irish and Italian catholics who are a significant reliable voting block for Democrats really have a big hatred of usury.

  • Ken Shultz||

    She represented Travelers Insurance against asbestos patients!

  • tarran||

    I think the Brown campaign is going to use that as the coup de main in September. Right now they are harrying her and forcing her to expend money and energy defending her reputation against allegations of tawdry behavior.

  • RPR2||

    including loaning money to her siblings at 24% per annum.

    families getting hammered.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'm of mixed feelings about such a revelation. On one hand, if they didn't like the rate, they could borrow elsewhere. A free market is a free market. It's like Al Capone being brought down on tax evasion. There's a lot of reason to want to see Warren's career halted, but that isn't one of them. On the other hand, it shows just how damned hypocritical her attacks on the banks really are. And, even if taken down for the wrong reasons, Warren being taken down really does put a smile on my face.

  • Entitled Slacker||

    "including loaning money to her siblings at 24% per annum."

    There is a hot Indian babe hawking payday loans on tv. No reason why Princess Shitting Bull can't get in on the action.

  • sloopyinca||

    Feast your eyes on this. I bet the Brown campaign is pissed it came out so early. This is a September-October story. (BTW, the Globe is still dead-silent on it after 3 days.)

  • PapayaSF||

    It does just keep getting better, doesn't it? What's next, a story about how she cheated on her taxes?

  • ||

    I'm not seeing how making profitable real estate deals is something bad.

  • PapayaSF||

    If you criticize foreclosures but make money from buying and flipping foreclosed houses, it's a bit of hypocrisy, no?

  • Mad Mac||

    "She also says -- and school officials confirm -- that her purported ethnic makeup played no role in her hiring, even though Harvard was under pressure to boost its minority numbers."
    But I guess she -- and they -- are obviously lying, so that gives you the right to determine that "the Massachusetts Senate candidate. . . got into Harvard under false pretenses"?

  • RPR2||

    for her and the school's denial to be believable, there would need to be instances of Harvard admitting to hiring or admitting a minority based on race. The denial is SOP.

  • R C Dean||

    She also says -- and school officials confirm -- that her purported ethnic makeup played no role in her hiring,

    An obvious lie. First, we know they were aware of it, because they boasted about it. Why would they do that if it wasn't plus factor for her hiring?

    Second, her background is just out of whack, not "prestigious" enough, compared to her colleagues. And I have little doubt that one could easily compile a (long) list of applicants with comparable or better resumes who lacked affact plus factors and were turned down.

  • ||

    Yes.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, Chapman, you being listed as a Native American--by way of a clerical error--is just like Elizabeth Warren--listing herself repeatedly as a Native American...

    Is that what we're supposed to believe?

    She also says -- and school officials confirm -- that her purported ethnic makeup played no role in her hiring, even though Harvard was under pressure to boost its minority numbers.

    Isn't that the standard throw-away line for every affirmative action hire? That they don't hire any affirmative action candidate because of race--the affirmative action has the same qualifications as the other candidates?

    P.S. Incidentally, there's a difference between you working as a journalist--and Elizabeth Warren running for office, too, isn't there?

    If you were running for office, Chapman, on a platform of having created the intellectual foundation for the OWS movement, like Warren does, and the whole time, you'd callously misappropriated for yourself an advantage intended for some downtrodden minority, I assure you it would be fair game during an election.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Chapman is a cunt.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Creating sympathy for Warren, what could be smarter?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Chapman and Warren are both from cunt band of the Cherokee tribe?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I can really empathize with Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate who may owe her connection with Harvard to the school's belief that she was Native American. I don't say this because I'm a particularly empathetic person. I say it because I may owe my connection with Harvard to the school's belief that I was Native American.

    Elizabeth Warren is dying for Chapman's sins. Everybody get out your violin.

  • Hell's Librarian||

    She is sticking to her guns, saying in her Wednesday statement, "My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I'm proud of it and I have been open about it."

    JFC. I don't even. QUIT DIGGING, you stupid bint.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    A real reporter would ask exactly what she's proud of?

    I mean, it's not like she went buffalo hunting with her full blooded injun relatives.

    So what the fuck is she proud of, grammy talking about high cheekbones.

  • Hell's Librarian||

    The claim strikes some people as odd, since she doesn't look Indian, doesn't have an Indian name, didn't grow up on a reservation and is not a registered member of any tribe.

    Yeah... I think that pretty much says it all. It is rather appalling that I haven't seen one MSM article that puts it in those terms.

  • Silver Fox||

    I don't think she has plans to stop.

    Instead it's time someone confiscated the shovel.

  • Muad'Dib||

    Newsflash, Chapman, by his own admission, not very intellectual! Really? Also, too lazy to do the right thing. One wonders who can possibly read his articles without throwing up a little in their mouths.

  • Mensan||

    I can. I did in fact.

  • anon||

    Never again will I read a Chapman article without thinking of The One Who Shall Not Be Named.

    The compounded gag reflex may be a more powerful force than compound interest. Einstein may have almost been proven wrong twice in a year!

  • Zeb||

    I think that everyone should just start randomly selecting a race on forms that ask for race. There can't really be a legal definition of race, can there? So why not just pick whatever you want to be that day. Pacific Islander always seems tempting. If we could manage to confuse and render as meaningless as possible racial labels, I think that would be a positive thing.

  • fried wylie||

    Pacific Islander always seems tempting.

    Would that get me the permits I need for my moai?

  • Hell's Librarian||

    "I'm a Maori. It's true I am the whitest white girl that ever whited; it's also true that I don't generally possess the Pacific Islander phenotype. But I do have high cheekbones, and a 3-greats grandmother who (I have been told) made sandwiches for the local Maori warriors."

  • sloopyinca||

    Yeah, I'll pass on that. I've already read Three Felonies A Day. I suggest you do the same before filling out your next government form.

  • fried wylie||

    They can only hang you once.

  • ||

    I live on Oahu, so Pacific Islander seems to be technically accurate. Also, I have some African ancestors from 40K years ago, apparently -- Rift Valley area, I believe. So I listed that on the U.S. Census.

  • John Galt||

    Sigh.. I'm always left out when the racists are playing their special privileges and benefits games since I'm only a common American mongrel mutt.

  • fried wylie||

    Hey, you're not left out. Somebody has to pay for those privileges and benefits.

  • ||

    So, you're THAT Chapman......

  • Almanian...still||

    You know else got into Harvard under false pretenses....

  • Almanian...still||

    I continue to note that I'm a Native American - I was born here.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Hey, everyone, I'm pretty sure he's putting us on.

    Seems to be an awful lot of faulty irony detectors out there.

  • T o n y||

    She's from Oklahoma, and it's rare to find someone here without Indian ancestry.

    Haven't read the comments yet, but I bet they're full of grievances about how bad white people have it in this world, you know, libertarianism.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Toady, it's already established that the ancestor through whom she claimed her alleged Native American status was not, in fact, a Cherokee or any other kind of Indian.

  • pagoda||

    Tony,

    I haven't read your comment yet but I am sure it expresses your opinion before putting forth any effort to find out the facts.

  • Nyarlathotep||

    CDN$

  • Johnimo||

    What nonsense race is. The government, by our own Constitution, should never ask any questions about race. Let's all start putting in "Martian" when asked about our "race."

  • Tejicano||

    I have a great-grandfather who supposedly was an Indian orphan adopted by a white family. Photos of him tend to bear this out more than any family folklore does.

    But I have no idea what tribe, I don’t show much evidence of any blood from him, and have no affiliations with any Native American culture. I was never discriminated against on that basis and I have only discussed this with three or four people in my family - never mentioned it to anybody else.

    The only way I can imagine ever bringing this up to others is after getting irrefutable evidence accepted by some American Indian organization which I can point to as proof.

  • lunettes de soleil pas cher||

    But I have no idea what tribe, I don’t show much evidence of any blood from him, and have no affiliations with any Native American culture. I was never discriminated against on that basis and I have only discussed this with three or four people in my family - never mentioned it to anybody else.

  • Suellington||

    On most forms that ask for a race I list as "other" and then write in Irish. My father came here in the 60's and my mother's parents in the 30's. If you go back far enough though we came from Africa.

  • Chaussures nike shox||

    Why my ostensible American Indian heritage didn't count with the other schools I applied to, I can't say. Four of the other five rejected me -- including Dartmouth, whose website claims it was "founded in 1769 with a mission to educate Indian students."

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