Would-be Democratic senator from Massachusetts and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren has gotten into hot water over her claims to Native American heritage. She had herself listed as an Indian in "diversity" information at various universities and in a national directory of law school faculty. Her defense:
"My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I'm proud of it and I have been open about it."
Warren grew up in Oklahoma and has provided no documentation of the ancestral claims. She has said her heritage is part of family lore.
I am not saying that Professor Warren does or does not have some genetic forbears who are Native American. But I do know from "family lore." If my relatives had been correct, I was supposed to be 1/16th Cherokee. Note the "supposed to be."
So here's the deal Professor Warren—modern science has provided an excellent way to put to rest this controversy—genetic testing. A lot of genetic testing companies offer fairly reliable genetic screening tests that do well in identifying various strands of one's ancestral ethnic heritage. In may case, it turns out that the Bailey family lore was completely false—it would be very hard to be genetically more European than I am.
I hasten to add that while I certainly repeated the family lore to many friends, I never once used it as an excuse to list my ethnicity as Native American on any official forms nor cited it in any professional way.
That being said, professor Warren, take a test and let the voters know if you can honestly call yourself Native American.