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Elizabeth Warren’s avowed Native American heritage — which the candidate rarely if ever discusses on the campaign trail — was once touted by embattled Harvard Law School officials who cited her claim as proof of their faculty’s diversity.
Warren’s claim, which surfaced yesterday after a Herald inquiry, put the candidate in an awkward position as campaign aides last night scrambled but failed to produce documents proving her family lineage. Aides said the tales of Warren’s Cherokee and Delaware tribe ancestors have been passed down through family lore.
“Like most Americans, Elizabeth learned of her heritage through conversations with her grandparents, her parents, and her aunts and uncles,” said Warren’s strategist Kyle Sullivan.
The Ivy League law school prominently touted Warren’s Native American background, however, in an effort to bolster their diversity hiring record in the ’90s as the school came under heavy fire for a faculty that was then predominantly white and male.
“Of 71 current Law School professors and assistant professors, 11 are women, five are black, one is Native American and one is Hispanic,” The Harvard Crimson quotes then-Law School spokesman Mike Chmura as saying in a 1996 article. The Crimson added that 83 percent of the Law School’s students believed the number of minority women on staff was inadequate.
CAMBRIDGE — The 60-plus Harvard Law School professors who filed into an auditorium-style room on the first floor of Pound Hall on that February 1993 afternoon had a significant question to answer: Should they offer a job to Elizabeth Warren?
The discussion among Harvard professors inside that room is supposed to remain a secret, but it’s still being dissected a quarter of a century later because the resulting vote set Warren on her way to becoming a national figure and a favored target for conservative critics, among them, notably and caustically, President Trump.
Was Warren on the agenda because, as her critics say, she had decided to self-identify as a Native American woman and Harvard saw a chance to diversify the law faculty? Did she have an unearned edge in a hugely competitive process? Or did she get there based on her own skill, hard work, and sacrifice?
The question, which has hung over Warren’s public life, has an answer.
In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.
The Globe examined hundreds of documents, many of them never before available, and reached out to all 52 of the law professors who are still living and were eligible to be in that Pound Hall room at Harvard Law School. Some are Warren’s allies. Others are not. Thirty-one agreed to talk to the Globe — including the law professor who was, at the time, in charge of recruiting minority faculty. Most said they were unaware of her claims to Native American heritage and all but one of the 31 said those claims were not discussed as part of her hire. One professor told the Globe he is unsure whether her heritage came up, but is certain that, if it did, it had no bearing on his vote on Warren’s appointment.
In 1984, a cousin in Oklahoma asked her to contribute recipes for a cookbook billed as "recipes passed down through the Five Tribes families." The book was entitled Pow Wow Chow.
Warren sent five, and under each one, listed herself as Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee.
Given that a cousin asked her to participate, this might lend credence to the notion that at least among her family, a tribal connection was taken for granted.
But it didn’t help that her recipes included one for crab with mayonnaise and another for herbed tomatoes — hardly traditional fare.
And to make matters worse, some of the recipes appear to have been copied from the New York Times wire service.
originally posted by: Zoyd23
Many white americans have the same amount of african DNA as EW has native american....are al those white people eligible for affirmative action? Can my kids go to Harvard, Yale and get govt. grants like EW?
originally posted by: Swills
a reply to: Lumenari
Well, I think you missed the point I’m making. This wasn’t started by her but she ended it. She does indeed have Native American blood flowing in her veins no matter how thin that blood is. She hasn’t used said ancestry to gain employment at Harvard which has always been the main attack against her.
originally posted by: avgguy
a reply to: Swills
But she did, she lied when asked and told the press she had no idea why Harvard thought she was Cherokee and then later admitted she had told Harvard management that she was Cherokee. She flat out lied
Harvard Law School in the 1990s touted Warren, then a professor in Cambridge, as being "Native American." They singled her out, Warren later acknowledged, because she had listed herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory.