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Elizabeth Warren’s claim of being 1/32 Cherokee in doubt

Elizabeth Warren’s claim of being 1/32 Cherokee in doubt

Could it get any worse?

When Elizabeth Warren first acknowledged that she had represented herself to be Native American when filling out forms for the Association of American Law Schools directories in the mid-80s through mid-90s, Warren based her claim entirely on family “lore.”

A couple of days later, her campaign came up with the claim that Warren was 1/32 Cherokee based on a marriage certificate for her great-great-great grandmother.

Now even that tenuous claim to Native American status is in doubt, via Boston Herald:

Until the Herald broke the story last Friday, Warren had never mentioned her Native American heritage on the campaign trail even as she detailed much of her personal history to voters in speeches, statements and a video.

But yesterday, she insisted, “Being Native American has been part of my story I guess since the day I was born. These are my family stories, I have lived in a family that has talked about Native Americans and talked about tribes since I was a little girl.”

Warren’s latest statements came as genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society were unable to back up earlier accounts that her great-great-great-grandmother is Cherokee. Warren’s ancestor, O.C. Sarah Smith, is listed on an electronic transcript of a 1894 marriage application as Cherokee. But as of yesterday, the society was unable to find the actual record or a photocopy, according to spokesman Tom Champoux.

A copy of the marriage license itself has been located, Champoux said, but unlike the application, it does not list Smith’s ethnicity.

In response to the first Update to my prior post, a reader expressed doubt in an email to me that there would be a record of whether Warren’s great-great-great grandmother was Cherokee:

Bottom record on right side of page.

Professor: This is the marriage record for William J. Crawford, son of J. H. Crawford and O.C. Smith (supposedly Cherokee). This is not the document stating she is Cherokee. William J Crawford would be a gg uncle to Elizabeth Warren.

You can clearly see that he was born in Tennessee. His mother was born in North Carolina She never lived in Oklahoma.

O.C. Smith was born about 1794, in North Carolina, married Johnathan Houston Crawford in 1819, and died after 1860 in Overton, TN.

There were Cherokee in North Carolina and Tennessee and most were forcibly removed to Oklahoma in 1838 (The Trail of Tears). Warren’s family was not among those.

I only sent this based on your update. There would be no Native American ancestry records in Oklahoma related to Elizabeth Warren.

As an aside, the Herald reporter picks up on a point I have been making but almost no one has been paying attention to, that Warren’s claim that she identified herself as Native American to meet others like her does not make sense:

The American Association of Law Schools directory, which administrators once used as a tip sheet to peg diversity hires, does not specify which minority group professors belong to. So it remained unclear yesterday how Warren, who listed herself in the directory from 1986 to 1995, used it to reach out to other Native American faculty.

What a tangled web.

Update:  John Fund makes a good comparison between the box Warren did check (Native American) and the box she did not check (voluntarily paying more in taxes).  Her hypocrisy and sanctimony is the reason this story is resonating.


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Damn It! Now, I have to return that Native American Head Dress, I just bought.

Those folks in Cherokee, NC ain’t gonna’ like this..

JackRussellTerrierist | May 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Even if Warren wasn’t a horrific liar and really was 1/32nd Cherokee, so what? How can 1/32nd of ANYTHING make you a member of that particular ethnicity, as opposed to whatever ethnicity comprises the rest of your makeup, or have enough influence on your life from that ethnicity to impact even the tiniest detail of your life experience?

    Doug Wright in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Ah come one now! Haven’t you ever heard of the old “One Drop” rule and the current one drop rule? It’s probably not sufficient for her to be accepted by some tribes for consideration to be on the tribal rolls. But still, doesn’t her family “Lore” mean anything at all?

    Come on now, be generous, that truly isn’t a bridge too far is it?

I’m not sure where , but I recall reading that the most common myth among white Americans is Indian blood at some remove almost always a great or great great grandmother and of Cherokee or Sioux ancestry.

Anyone having this ‘history’ should be skeptical and look into getting some documentation before making claims about it.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to Steve. | May 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    It’s so common that it’s been claimed Lady Randolph Churchill, nee Jennie Jerome, was part Iroquois on her mother’s side. I always though it would be a hoot if it turned out Winston had a better claim to Native American roots than Ward.

I found all my “high cheek-boned” ancestors, their spouses and children on the Dawes Rolls. Took about 2.5 minutes. Googled “Dawes Chickasaw”, click, click and they all showed up. And with Granny being from Oklahoma she would know this. She’s only a few generations removed (like me, and my grandfather was listed) and need only a last name. Another note: The Dawes Commission *Rolls* were for land allotments to the Indians and family members. Due to my ancestry I receive oil royalty checks, as my family may have sold most allotments but always retained our mineral rights. A “gift” so to speak, from the government. Every educated Okie knows this. Yes, we learned it in school back then. I think she just figured that they would never check it out. Too good to be true–a woman and a Native American. Sheesh.

George Zimmerman is more black than Elizabeth Warren is Native American, yet that didn’t absolve him of racism charges so why should anybody let Elizabeth Warren off the hook for her “minority rent seeking.”

Now in a deep hole of her own making, Ms Warren would appear to be trying to dig UP.

It would be a kindness if someone were to take that shovel away from her.

I’m not even 1/32 Native American, but I can at least prove it through family history (not lore) and marriages. It occured back in the 1600s with the Christian daughter of a Narraganset chief.

Ragspierre | May 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm

And, of course, this has NOTHING to do with her qualifications to teach law.

It HAS to do with her LYING.

For Haaaaavid, it has to do with being pwnd over extraneous BS like confusing ethnicity with diversity…or whatever OTHER pretext they use to racially discriminate in their selection processessssssss.

    Tamminator in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    It has more to do with her being a Democrat, don’t you think?
    They’re incapable of telling the truth about anything. 🙂

    Anchovy in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I am not a lawyer. However I would have to assume that law schools have to teach prospective lawyers how to frame an argument, how to argue your point and how to research arguments for your case. If this “high cheekbone” defense is an example of her ability to argue anything, she shouldn’t be teaching drivers ed at a high school.

    I sure as hell wouldn’t want her as my defense attorney if this is representative of her ability articulate a defense.

      Ragspierre in reply to Anchovy. | May 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Oh, I dunno…

      She’s doing as well as Obama’s Solicitor General.

      Better, perhaps…

In passing, I caught the audio clip of her explaining that a high cheek bone is unimpeachable evidence of ancestry-

Not knowing what it was…


pilgrim1949 | May 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

OK, boys and girls, let’s all join in and sing:

One little, two little, three little Liberals…

Cassandra Lite | May 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm

All I can think of is Blazing Saddles.

LukeHandCool | May 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Look here. In just a few hours, Elizabeth Warren could make this whole controversy go away. It’s as simple as this:

I’ll only add that Will Rogers, an actual Oklahoma Cherokee, would be having a field day with this.

Based on family lore, I’m related to Buffalo Bill. The only person who could explain the lineage was my grandfather, who died in 1972. Would that have entitled me to special privileges when I went to college?

    No, RD. Being related to Buffalo Bill Cody would actually have been a hindrance as he was a famous Indian killer for which he was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry in action at the Battle of Summit Springs on the Platte River, NE, July 11, 1863, while serving as a civilian scout for the 5th Army/3rd Cavalry. Cody killed the Cheyenne Dog Soldier Chief Tall Bull and rescued a white woman. He killed many more Indians that day and throughout the rest of his Army scouting service. The Medal was rescinded in 1917 because he was an Army civilian employee; however, since awarding regulations of the time did not specify only military personnel were eligible, the medal was reinstated in 1989.

    You would have been lucky not to be scalped – metaphorically, of course.

“I was born the son of a poor black sharecropper.”

abenson229 | May 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

The “lore” in my family for a long time was that my paternal grandmother was 1/4 Cherokee, supposedly proved by the fact that my grandfather sometimes referred to her as “squaw”. Now, I never once heard HER say she was Cherokee, but somehow that got to be the story.

My wife got seriously into genealogy about 10 years ago and thoroughly disproved the lore. Not one drop of American Indian blood, Cherokee or otherwise, anywhere in the family.

So, treat family lore like the NY Times. Don’t believe it.

Does a “drop” of blood make a difference?

Oh, wait, this is the party that likes to play the race card.

persecutor | May 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Damn! So my despite myhigh cheekbones, I’m only first generation Sicilian-Gernman and not 1/100000000000 Hekawe?
(With apologies to F-Troop)

Whether we trace our common origin to evolution or God, at what point do we distinguish between “minorities”? What an utterly bankrupt concept, which justifies denigrating individual dignity.

Yes, it could get worse. A college administrator could come forward and say that she was appointed over a “white” person to some committee or position because they needed a minority.

is she still an employee of harvard?

if so, shouldn’t she be canned by now? tenure or no, she lied and in the process misrespresented herself over the years.

    Anchovy in reply to drozz. | May 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I just figured out the whole thing…. Liz works at Harvard Law, right?

    And where does Lawrence TRIBE work?

    Nuf said.

Lay off Elizabeth (Occupy Strategist) Warren. She made an honest mistake. She’s also handicapped (did she claim this too?) – hard of hearing. She innocently mistook “chickpea” for “Cherokee”. So, she’s Lebanese. That counts right? As a minority? Deserving, nay “entitled”, to move to the front of the line!

If somebody has already linked this, sorry I overlooked your comment—but it’s worth linking more than once.

I am sure she must have records for all of the pro bono work she has done on reservations for “people like” her. She must have spent at least as much time and effort working for the downtrodden native Americans as she has working for evil greedy large corporations and insurance companies.


If she is in any way Cherokee, her ancestor would have to be on the “Dawes List”. Otherwise her claim is irrelevant.

    beloved2 in reply to Augustus. | May 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    NO, not necessarily on Dawes. A person can be 100% Native American(Omaha, Navajo,Shoshoni,Apache, Black Dutch) and still not qualify to be recognized as a Native American. The tribes list the requirements for each tribe.“…In order to register with the Cherokee Nation you must be issued a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The white card (as the CDIB is often called) certifies your degree of Indian blood (blood quantum) and the tribe you are affiliated with…”
    Guess what? O.C. Smith is not on the Dawes nor is Elizabeth Warren. Pathological liar like her boss? Ethnicity is recorded on the birth certificate so why isn’t she showing her birth certficate? Like her boss, ’tis fabrication and fantasy. He has gotten away without showing his birth certificate or any legal document of citizenship so now she is trying with smoke and mirrors to cover her fraud.
    Chief John Ross was 1/8 Cherokee, Mangas Colorados, that great chief of the Chiricahua was 100% Mexican but then he didn’t claim to be Native American. A native American family can adopt a “bellagana” but don’t think any would want such a liar like Warren, it is not the “beauty way” of the Di’ne!

Elizabeth needs an Indian name, a moniker for hanging out with the other 1/32 Native Americans, or less. Maybe some could come up with something better than my feeble efforts:

Dancing With the Voters
Falling Poll
Campaign Briskly Burning
Daughter of Cheekbones
Great Harvard Mother

Something tells me Warren won’t be sending a cheek swab off to a DNA lab to corroborate her tale.

Did I mention that my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was a bastard fathered by Genghis Khan ?
Of course, I never mentioned it because it is most likely not true.
And somewhere in there is an atrocity.

    lichau in reply to Neo. | May 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Actually, Neo, there is a pretty good likelihood that you have some of old Ghenghis’s genes. An amazing number of us do. I think it is about 0.5 percent of the world. and as high as eight percent if you are from his old stomping grounds.

    Some of the old Scots did pretty well although none were in GK’s league.

    Anchovy in reply to Neo. | May 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I believe the bastard part, but I am not so sure how great he really was. I demand proof. Show me the birth certificate. I will know if you use a Word document because those people way back when, were too smart to use Microsoft products.

None of us REALLY know our ancestors. That is why bloodlines run through the female side in many cultures–you are pretty certain who the baby’s mother is–the father is more of a guess.

I would think that anyone with any reasonable amount of family tree tracing back as far as 18th century US would have a pretty high likelihood of Native Americans in the woodpile, so to speak. Pretty ordinary, if your family has been here long enough.

Sadly, I have no hope of claiming any bank robbers, horse thieves or Indian Chiefs (or Princesses). Mother’s family has been here going on 300 yrs; totally boring lot, so far as I can tell. Small farmers, unless there was a war needing cannon fodder they probably never got more than ten miles from where they were born.

This whole thing is nuts.

You folks in MA sure know how to pick them. Kennedy’s without end, Kerry, now Warren. The only good connection I can make between Romney and MA is that you probably would have thrown him out–which is somewhat of a recommendation.

Wait…her great, great, great grandmother Smith — the fifth generation back — was supposedly married in 1896!?

This strikes me as odd because I am only a few years older than Warren and my Irish GRANDMOTHER was married before 1894. Warren was born in 1949. If you assume an average of 25 years per generation (minimal, though possible) her parents were born around 1925, her grandparents around 1900 and her great grandparents around 1875. This third generation back is the one that would be marrying about 1894. Her great, great, great grandmother was more likely to have been born around 1825 or earlier — an old woman in 1894.

    Milhouse in reply to JEBurke. | May 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    25 years per generation?! Until very recently a 25-year-old spinster was an old maid! Our great-grandparents used to get married at 15-16.

    gasper in reply to JEBurke. | May 3, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    JE – Warren’s ggg-grandmother was born in 1794 and married in 1819. The person whose marriage certificate is shown in the article is the ggg-grandmother’s son, William J. Crawford. He was 57 years old at the time and it was his second marriage.

    nordic_prince in reply to JEBurke. | May 4, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I was thinking along the same lines – the 1890s is a bit late for a great-great-great grandmother’s marriage to be popping up for someone of Warren’s age. For that level in the family tree, a marriage sometime in the first half of the 19th century is more plausible.

Correct. I think Major Ridge, John Ross, and Stand Watie would not be happy with Ms. Warren.

Cassandra Lite | May 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

The professor asks: “Could it get any worse?”

Yeah, she could win.

Why do you ask, Two Dogs Humping?

BannedbytheGuardian | May 3, 2012 at 11:39 pm

This Native stuff is only a plus if they are a Democrat .

Little Trig Palin is 1/4-1/8 inuit but that did not save him from a nationwide vicious assault.

I think native title also should have some responsibility . 4 year old Trig igoes native bringing in the fish.

What has Warren done ? Surely she could have learnt to fashion a buffalo skin cape or sumthin.

My grandaddy was realy dark and short!
My Grandaddy was real FAT!
I must be Samoan! Where’s MY FREE SAMOAN MINORITY STUFF!
My Grandaddy was yellow with Hepatitis!