Warren: I Listed As ‘American Indian’ In Hopes Of Meeting Similar People

Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren faces reporters during a news conference at Liberty Bay Credit Union headquarters, in Braintree, Wednesday. (AP)

BRAINTREE, Mass. — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is providing the fullest explanation thus far of why she once listed herself as American Indian, and then stopped doing so.

Warren listed herself in the directory of the Association of American Law Schools as American Indian from 1986 to 1995.

“And I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am,” she told reporters in a credit union in Braintree. “Nothing like that ever happened. That was clearly not the use for it. And so I stopped checking it off. That was it.”

Warren said she grew up hearing about her American Indian heritage from her family.

“I have lived in a family that has talked about Native Americans and talked about tribes since I have been a little girl,” she said. “I still have a picture on my mantle at home, and it’s a picture my mother had before that, a picture of my grandfather, and my Aunt Bee has walked by that picture at least 1,000 times, remarked that he, that her father, my papa, had high cheekbones like all of the Indians do, because that’s how she saw it.”

Genealogical records suggest Warren is at least 1/32nd Cherokee. The campaign of Republican Scott Brown has raised questions about whether she used that distant heritage to advance her career in academia to the detriment of more deserving American Indians. But Warren said her ethnic background has never been a factor in her employment.

“Look, I worked hard for everything I have done,” she said. “I am a hard-working teacher. I have won teaching awards. I have written books that have won acclaim. I have gotten out there and done everything I know to do as a law professor. I applied for one job in 1978 by letter, and every job I’ve had since then has been from someone recruiting me into that job, and they have come to me and said, and they have now said publicly, ‘Because of your work, we’d like you to come here. We’d like you to come to the University of Texas, and Penn,’ and so on.”

Warren was hired by Harvard from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995, the same year she stopped listing herself in the law school directory as American Indian. Her ethnic background first came up in 1996, when Harvard Law School told the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, that she was Native American.

WBUR asked the school what data it was relying on when it called Warren a Native American, but the school did not respond.

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  • janesoutham

    Does anyone believe this total BS excuse? What a phony she is.

  • elewisg39

    What this has to do about qualification for the US Senate escapes me.

    On the other hand her reasons for signing on as a Cherokee at Harvard don’t pass the smell test


    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UAJBLSR7HDY3NAYIUO7UZFOO2M Rhett

       Do we really need another dishonest cheat becoming a “public servant”?

      • http://www.wbur.org/people/fthys Fred Thys

        What did she do that was dishonest?

    • http://www.wbur.org/people/fthys Fred Thys

      She didn’t sign on as a Cherokee at Harvard; she listed herself as American Indian in the directory of the Association of American Law Schools.

      • elewisg39


        I think that you are splitting hairs.
        It matters not where she signed on as a minority, the fact is that she did so.
        None of us can know the reason, except her.

        But as a political reporter, I would think that you are aware of the other issue that is raised, who qualifies to be a minority, who is worthy of special entitlement.

        Are there discriminatory acts practiced against lawyers who are 1/32 American Indian.  How many millions of Americans are at least 1/32 American Indian.

        Racial considerations like this only divide us as a nation.

  • Judy

    like this really matters with the problems our country faces.

  • Peter Lake

    She listed herself as an Indian to get invited to lunch?

    Wish I had thought of that one, Kemo Sabe.

  • Guest

    The late Honorable Chief Wilma Mankiller was 50% Cherokee and 50% Irish but she was all Cherokee in her up bringing.  There are many today with less and less percentage of blood recognition but are culturally one thing or another.  I’m glad that she is  recognizing her heritage. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NZIFEM43OZ4RR2L3IGG7QMCTDA Nomad

    “her father, my papa, had high cheekbones like all of the Indians do” 

    If Sarah Palin had said that it would be the opening story on every mainstream media station and Jon Stewart would do an entire show in it and SNL would spoof it in at least two skits.

    • http://www.wbur.org/people/fthys Fred Thys

      Warren was quoting her Aunt Bea. 

  • Wtmartinson

    1986 listed in minority professor section of association of law schoolS directory
    At that time has very light publication record….check her cv
    1987 without applying, is invited by university of Pennsylvania and becomes professor there
    And builds publication record
    1992 harvard law school faces organized protests over lack of tenured minority woman
    1995 without applying, Warren is invited by harvard law school and is hired and touted as it’s first tenured female minority professor
    1996 Warren stops being listed in minority section of law schools directory

  • Marvin

    It is ok.  Stop bothering her and stop any further news about her (false) claims.  She is a liberal Democrat, not a conservative Republican.  She should get a pass.  If it were Scott Brown making such a claim, we would not hear the end of it.

    My sisters told me last year that I too am 1/32 Canadian Native American.  It may be true since my grandmother emigrated from Canada, however I do not go around claiming that heritage (1) since it may not be true and (2) I really had no Native American training or knowledge during my youth.

    • Marvin

      By the way, I am not sure about whether my grandmother had high cheekbones or not.

  • gumbojuice

    I love this line from her:  “….remarked that he, that her father, my papa, had high cheekbones like all of the Indians do.”  This is the kind of intellect at Harvard?  Holy smokes.  

    • http://www.wbur.org/people/fthys Fred Thys

      She was quoting her Aunt Bea.

  • ironinder

    If it takes 3-4 days to answer every question the senate may just be too fast paced an environment for Professor Warren. 
    Let me see if I get itShe is fascinated by her native american background (and who wouldn’t be) and yearns to meet others like her (whatever that means since she really knows nothing about her background) but cannot be bothered to spend a couple of hours checking records freely available to learn a bit more, or was it, don’t spoil a very advantageous /convenient story line. As a former supporter I am very disappointed being honest and having no baggage was the big attraction.For detractors this is red meat and the kind of distraction that will keep us from substantive discussions over the next few months. For supporters bewilderment that the smartest person in the room doesn’t know how to explain away a bit of resume “fact stretching” early in ones career and that the crack campaign team had not flagged this as an issue to deal with. 

    As for the gee what a silly distraction crowd, what would be your response be to revelations that Scott Brown had fudged his military record or was wearing medals on his uniform he had not earned?

    This is really disappointing, another can’t miss candidate blows up.

  • jgfox

    I should be listing my “heritage” as African-American since my distant male relative came out of Africa about 60,000 years ago

  • ironinder

    Warren’s law degree is last among Harvard’s elite staff ?

    If so pretty eye opening, if she is really the least qualified professor on the staff it just feeds the preference hire story line.

    • Tomilvento

      You are clueless.  I feel sorry for you.  It is what you do that is most important in a career.  Not where you graduated from.

  • Ripple103

    She is delusional. Hope she gets the help that she needs.

  • CLB

    This should be a non-issue.  We are all entitled to claim all that we are any time that we like.  Since she did not lie about her heritage why does anyone care?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CXF23VSW2NVU6JFQXZ4D6IHGZM Biff Watterson

      No it’s not a non-issue, but thanks for the red herring.  We have someone who’s running for the US Senate that may have committed fraud, and who has already been caught on record lying about her wealth.  Of course for a liberal maybe fraud and lying is a non-issue, because it’s their norm.  The rest of us care about credibility and integrity in our elected officials.

      First off – no documentation has come out yet that we can find on the internet to support her claim.  But lets say they do eventually find something.  She obviously claimed minority status without having any formal proof other than her family stories.  1/32 isn’t enough to join any of the three Cherokee tribes.

  • http://twitter.com/atp718 Adria Prosser

    I am a white woman, and I am pissed. Warren’s contempt and game-playing
    are obvious – if being a white woman is so awful, then I guess she
    doesn’t need my vote. After all what am I.

    For people who are sickened by Warren’s arrogance, I have a suggestion:
    support Marisa DeFranco. She is the real underdog in this race, and
    she has integrity, which is rare in MA politics. Go DeFranco!

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