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Elizabeth Warren fits the Native American “box checker” profile

Elizabeth Warren fits the Native American “box checker” profile

A reader [see update] sent me the link to the article below which examines the “box checker” phenomenon in college and law school admissions.  I think the same analysis applies with regard to professional advancement in fields where there is enormous pressure to diversify, such as academia.

Elizabeth Warren’s claim to be Cherokee for professional purposes was just part of a larger societal phenomenon, as examined by Lawrence Baca, Former President, National Native American Bar Association, American Indians and the “Box Checker” Phenomenon (starting at p. 70 of the link):

American Indians are less than 2.0% of the national population. We have the least voting influence of any racial group in America and we are the easiest to be overlooked in the racial diversity discourse.  While we have many diversity issues in common with other racial and ethnic minorities, there is one diversity issue in higher education that is ours and ours alone. For affirmative action purposes we are the race non-minorities are more likely to claim they are. Non-minorities may lie about their race to get admitted to college and law school and the race they are most likely to choose to lie about being is American Indian….

The well-known and respected American Indian, Vine Deloria Jr., in his book Custer Died For Your Sins (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1969), commented on meeting hundreds of people whom he believed to be White but who were anxious to tell him of their Indian heritage. He wrote of a common phenomenon in that the overwhelming majority of people who claimed to be Indian said they were Cherokee and their ancestor was always a “princess.” He expressed concern that three generations back there were no Indian men among the Cherokee. Every
Indian I know is familiar with this phenomenon: you are at a social function, you might be wearing Indian jewelry, and someone approaches; they appear Anglo and they ask, “You’re Indian, right? I’m part Cherokee. My great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess.” This is not something that happens to any other racial or ethnic minority group.

Baca goes on to note the low graduation-to-growth rate for Native Americans who go to law school, meaning that there are far fewer Native American lawyers than one would expect given the number of graduates who claim to be Native American.  This suggests that there is a high percentage of “box checkers” who claim Native American status only to gain an admission advantage (emphasis in original):

The Census reports showed 1,502 American Indian lawyers in 1990.1 That number increases to 1,730 for the 2000 Census.2 That is an increase in American Indian lawyers of only 228 in ten years.  That is an over-all growth of 15%. What makes the +228 most interesting is when you compare it to graduation statistics. A few years ago the American Bar Association (ABA) printed dis-aggregatedstatistics of JDs granted by race for all accredited law schools in America. According to those reports, between 1990 and 2000, ABA-accredited law schools reported giving JDs to 2,497 American Indians.  Let me repeat, Indian lawyers increased by 228 between 1990 and 2000 while law schools reported graduating 2,497 American Indian students. Using these numbers I have created what I call the graduation-to-growth rate. When you divide the number of new lawyers by the number of reported
graduates you get a ratio that allows cross-race comparisons. For American Indians, the ratio of new lawyers to reported law graduates is 9.13%.

Here is Baca’s chart showing the growth rate for other groups, all of which are a multiple of that for Native Americans:

It significant that those who falsely claim to be Native American, and particularly Cherokee, tend to drop that claim when it no longer is needed.

That pattern was evident in Elizabeth Warren’s career, when she stopped listing herself in the law faculty directory as Native American (which showed up as “minority” in the directory) after she joined Harvard Law.

Other than reporting to Harvard for federal filing purposes that she was Native American (how could she not when she had told them), there is no evidence that after reaching Harvard Law Warren took any interest in anything Native American.  While Harvard promoted Warren as a Native American hire in the late 1990s, there is no evidence that after joining Harvard Law Warren promoted herself as Native American.

Warren went down a well-traveled path.  We can’t prove that Warren did gain an advantage from checking the box, but there is substantial evidence she tried.

Update 7-7-2012:  At the time of the post I could not remember the source of the link, but it has been called to my attention that Rob Eno of Red Mass Group wrote about the Baca article, Lawrence J. Baca and the History of American Indian Law School “Box Checkers”.


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Running Bare is simply following the lib tradition of gaming the system while not expecting to ever be caught, let alone questioned about it.

This time, I fear she misjudged the quality of the people doing the digging–the Professor and Breitbart’s people. Look them up and you’ll see a picture of a pitbull in the definition column.

The reason people will throw politicians touched by scandal out of office is the belief that a person who has lied once about a serious matter will also lie about other serious matters, and may have other nasty habits.

So we know Fauxcahauntas lied about her ancestry, and that a paper she published showed clear signs of what can most politely be called lazy scholarship (what that says about her editors and publishers isn’t pretty, either.) For me, lazy scholarship translates rather quickly into public policy with perverse results.

Is there more?

    iconotastic in reply to Valerie. | July 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Lied to Congress regarding her involvement in settlement talks between the government and mortgage companies and showed a shocking sense of entitlement when she thought she could limit her time to testify before Congress.

    Of course, people with the least justification for respect often behave exactly like that. Given Warren’s reprehensible path through the legal academy and her shoddy scholarship, she probably needs to demand special treatment for her undeserved sense of worth.

“We can’t prove that Warren did gain an advantage from checking the box, but there is substantial evidence she tried.”

And that is the insidious nature of “affirmative action”…or institutionalize racial preferences. You never know.

In my first year section in law school there was a beautiful, bright young lady from New Orleans. Both her parents were tenured faculty members at Tulane. She was black.

We had frank discussions about her admission to law school, and her own questions about her qualifications. We also discussed the whole ambit of “diversity”, and how in the world her background made her different than other members of our section who came from well-off families.

Our section WAS fairly diverse, with three or four members like me who were admitted despite being “old”. One was a Catholic priest who had served in Rome on Cannon Law counsels, and was from an ancient Coptic family originally from Egypt. But our diversity was NEVER from the skin color of our section-mates.

And those of our number who were from minorities would always wonder, and their prospective employers and clients would…unjustly sometimes…wonder.

And they were truthful, contra Warren.

PrincetonAl | July 4, 2012 at 12:08 pm

The detailed level of reporting and analysis here is fantastic, Professor.

For those who followed the Juan Williams/Michelle Malkin dust-up over who the “real reporters” are, vs. “just bloggers”, it is just awesome to put them to shame everytime with this kind of information.

And, somewhat apart from this post, in honor of this day, 4th of July, I feel a particular fighting spirit. A couple of my favorite quotes to savor today:

“They have us surrounded … the poor bastards.”, 101st Airborne at Bastogne.

“When in doubt, attack”, Gen. Patton

“Aw, nuts”, Gen. McAuliffe, when asked to surrender.

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ~ General Dwight D. Eisenhower

So long as we have freedom of speech and, God bless, an unregulated Internet, they can surround us all they want, the poor bastards. With thoughts like these in mind, on this day, liberty will prevail and the phonies will fail.

And, because I am a magnanimous sort, here is a quote to spare for the other side:

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” ~ Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, after bombing Pearl Harbor.

Grill and feast on that quote today, socialists. Now its time to get the BBQ fired up.

Insufficiently Sensitive | July 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Nice job, Professor, and many thank to the forwarder and writer of that ‘box check’ article.

No inquiry into daily news is complete without a trip to Legal Insurrection, to pick up the gems which MSM throws into the trash.

We should not ignore the emotional payoff for a young liberal to pretend to be a minority. They may feel very moral about “standing in solidarity with oppressed people” when they wrongly check that box. The fact that there is the potential for some more tangible benefit is then easily rationalized away as a perfectly just way of “sticking it to the man.”

My dad graduated from Harvard Law in 1937 and I’ve been poring through file cabinets containing his old client files, 1940’s Navy/WW2 papers, Harvard Reunion Committee correspondence, etc. to see if he might have kept “copies” of letters of recommendation written on his behalf by Harvard Law professors when he was trying desperately to get a job after graduation with several white shoe law firms in NYC. Before he died in 1978 he told me that his law professor(s) (which included Felix Frankfurter) had written to the heads of these firms, “Despite his Hebraic origins, I believe that____would make a fine contribution to your firm in the practice of law.” He never got a job offer from any of them and after serving as a naval officer in WW2 in the Aleutian Islands, he worked for the NY AG’s office and then opened up a solo practice, specializing in administrative law and appeals. Even if he isn’t “rolling over in his grave” at what has happened to his alma mater, Harvard, I am on his behalf. Harvard Law rejected me when I applied (I’ve got “Hebraic origins” but no “High Cheekbones”)and I went to NYU Law instead, after which I got a job as an associate at one of those big white show law firms that had rejected my father. Affirmative Action was getting into full swing in the early 80’s at “white shoe” law firms and I have been told to my face that I wasn’t going to be getting a job because I wasn’t “black or Latin” even though I was “undoubtedly” the “most qualified” for certain positions to which I had applied.

I find Lawrence Baca’s discussion of “check-box” Indians to be misdirected as to the real problem. First he accepts that “diversity” is a goal which minorities must somehow strive to attain in order that racial equality can be realized. As is the condition of all liberal thinkers, the blending of skin colors and ethnic backgrounds makes any education institution, workplace and the world, in general, “a better place for you and me“.

Measurement of the success of “diversity” has long been in the hands of academia, where research takes the form of opinion surveys carefully constructed to elicit favorable comments in order to continue the reverse discrimination policies put in place in the 1960s to end racial bias. Social “scientists” at the universities are sucking up major grant funds to perpetrate the lie that intermixing groups based on skin color is the only way that minorities will become economically “middle class.”

Robert Weissberg exactly describes what needs to be done – and what is being done instead:

“Middle class” merely became a mid-point on some Socio-Economic Status (SES for short) Scale and was made concrete by boiling it down to income or education levels. Researchers (including myself) would now take these data and divide it into upper, middle, and lower class categories. More detailed measures might include occupational status. But, no matter how sliced and diced, the underlying psychology of being middle class, e.g., a strong work ethic, probity, and all the rest, was replaced by one or two easy-to-measure traits that were separate from any underlying dispositions. It was just assumed, for example, that anyone who had a college diploma also had the fortitude to get it.

We need to carefully consider the arguments emanating from any organization or individual with an obvious agenda – including the National Native American Bar Association and Vine Deloria, who easily declared American society corrupt but assigned no fault to the once proud and fierce Indians who now accept government dole. Yesteryear may not be the answer but history has its lessons.

Henry Hawkins | July 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Diversity Battle Cry:

“Onward to mediocrity and beyond!”

Isn’t “Progressive America” great! Lie about your ancestry and ethnicity for personal and professional gain, shun those are of that ethnicity, and loudly denounce anyone who exposes you as a racist.

Gaia bless us, everyone!

How can every “progressive” be so much below average?

Kind of makes you wonder…

The left is thoughtless. Reality shows they are only concerned with self. ln practice they will walk over any of the little people to reach their goal. Even if they have to go out of their way. Bad actors ain’t only in Hollyworthless. . . My ex wife grew up next door to the DeLoria parents.

If you want to know how the rest of the world looks at “diversity,” ask a Rwandan, or Bosnian or an Armenian or a French Huguenot, assuming you can find one…

If “diversity” is such a glorious end in itself, why has central Europe spent the better part of the last 20 years trying desperately to become less heterogeneous?

And if that isn’t enough, the UN has invented a new ethnicity called “Palestinian.” They used to be just Arabs but even the Arabs didn’t want to let them in to “diversify” their Arab countries…

If Lizzie Warren is Cherokee, I am a transsexual, transgendered, left-handed, African-Asian, Martian…

TrooperJohnSmith | July 4, 2012 at 10:59 pm

As I mentioned earlier, too many “white Indians” have taken advantage of the benefits that stolen Indian heritage has given them. These malefactors are, however, only a symptom of a dysfunctional system that allows race-based advantage to anyone.

Indians are the oldest and arguably most pathetic of the institutional “victims” class, and thus have become so docile and negatively effected by public largess, they have no real public voice. Complicating this is the fact Indians are so geographically and culturally dispersed they have no real voting-bloc power or political voice. Their misery is confined to mostly rural reservations and autonomous homelands, so our society is largely ignorant of Indian issues. Being distant cultures of myth and mystery makes usurping Indian blood heritage an abstraction, like downloading MP3 files from a server.

I mean, we know generally what other multiracial people look like, but Indians? What does a 1/32 Cherokee look like? Is this the same as being 1/32 African-American? Are the “preference” set-asides the same for a person who is 1/32 Indian and 1/32 black? What if I’m 1/32 Mongolian or Tongan? At what point can we all claim to be an aggreived minority?

If Warren was claiming African-American or Hispanic heritage, there would likely be civil disobedience and outrage. She claims to be Indian based on the tales of sweet ol’ “Aint Bea”? There’s not a word.

On a related note, it’s ironic that poor old George Zimmerman is at least one-eighth black, and under the Democrats’ old ‘black codes’, he was by law, black. In effect, he’s more black than Warren is Indian. Where is the Left’s vaunted fairness in that?

    WarEagle82 in reply to TrooperJohnSmith. | July 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

    It’s true. Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson was 7/8 “white” but classified as “black” by the Democrat’s segregation laws enacted after the civil war and gave the nation decades of “separate but equal” under one of the worst SCOTUS decisions of all times…