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Elizabeth Warren Wikipedia page ethnically cleansed (Update — partial restoration)

Elizabeth Warren Wikipedia page ethnically cleansed (Update — partial restoration)

One of the greatest controversies surrounding Elizabeth Warren was her claim to be Native American, specifically Cherokee.

The controversy was sparked in late April 2012, when the Boston Herald revealed that in the late 1990s Harvard Law School had promoted Warren as a Native American faculty member. The public was unaware that Warren claimed to be Cherokee. When confronted by reporters, Warren claimed not to know why Harvard was promoting her as Native American.

Over the ensuing weeks, information was uncovered by a law professor that starting in the mid-1980s, when she was at U. Penn. Law School, Warren had put herself on the “Minority Law Teacher” list in the faculty directory of the Association of American Law Schools but dropped from that list when she gained tenure at Harvard. When confronted with this information, Warren admitted she had filled out forms listing herself as Native American, claiming she wanted to meet other Native Americans. That explanation was irrational because the faculty directory only listed her as “minority,” not as “Native American,” so putting herself on that list was not a way to meet other Native Americans.

Later, reporters uncovered that Warren had represented herself to both U. Penn and Harvard for federal reporting purposes as Native American. Warren, however, did not meet the two part test under Harvard and EEOC definitions of Native American, a definition which likely was on the page when she checked the box.  Warren has refused to release these records.

Detailed genealogical investigation by Cherokees showed that Warren had no Cherokee or other Native American ancestry. Initial claims by a genealogist in Boston that Warren was 1/32nd Cherokee were withdrawn as lacking evidence.  Her own nephew, when documenting family genealogy, called claims of Native American ancestry a “rumor.”

Warren insisted during the campaign that believed that she was Cherokee based on family lore, but that family lore (including the famous elopement story) was substantially debunked. Warren’s family always self-identified as white, and her great grandfather even made the local newspapers for shooting an Indian.

Warren’s false claim to be Cherokee, and her comical explanations, such as that her ancestors had “high cheekbones” and a plagiarized entry in the Pow Wow Chow cookbook, have become a large part of Warren’s political persona, and is the subject of widespread mockery.

There was a time when Wikipedia, the source to which so many people refer for basic information, contained a detailed explanation of the controversy under its own subheading, and there was an effort made to document the story.

For example, as of June 16, 2012, Warren’s Wikipedia page contained a subheading and detailed explanation (click image to enlarge):

Warren Wikipedia 6-16-2012

During Warren’s 2012 senatorial campaign, on April 26, 2012 the Boston Herald reported that in 1996, Harvard Law School had “touted” Warren as Native American based on her claim of that ancestry soon after she was hired. The Boston Globe noted other media reports by Harvard in 1997 and 1998; the Crimson in 1998 said, “Harvard Law School currently has only one tenured minority woman, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is Native American.”[46] The law school was responding to critics at the time who said it had not hired sufficient numbers of women and minorities.

To that point in the campaign, Warren had seldom, if ever, mentioned her ancestry.[47] Three days later, the Herald reported that Warren had identified as a minority from 1986 to 1995 in a directory of law professors. It was often used as a resource by recruiters to make diversity-friendly hires.[48][46][49] The Brown campaign, the Native American Rights Fund,[50][51] and others have questioned her motives and the propriety of her claiming minority status, which was intended under diversity programs to help historically “disadvantaged” populations.[52][53][54][55][56] A Cherokee group, made up of fewer than 175 members,[57] protested her trying to gain advantage under affirmative action programs, and said that only the Cherokee Nation could determine tribal membership.[58]

The Globe noted on May 25 that “both Harvard’s guidelines and federal regulations for the statistics lay out a specific definition of Native American that Warren does not meet.”[46] Harvard’s guideline is twofold; it says that a Native Americans is “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.”[46] By the end of May, Warren had not documented her ancestry. She is not a member of a tribe and the “current executive director of Harvard’s Native American program has said she has no memory of Warren participating in any of its activities.”[46]

On April 30, the genealogist Christopher Child at the New England Historic Genealogical Society said he had found that everyone in Warren’s family, through her great-grandparents’ generation, has been listed or classified as white in records. He has noted that documenting Native American ancestry can be difficult.[47][59][60][61] Warren said that she had heard family stories about her Cherokee ancestors her entire life.[62] She said she had identified as a minority in the law directory listing (of the 1980s and 1990s) for chances to to meet people of similar tribal background. (The reporter Hillary Chabot noted the directory does not identify the specific minorities.)[49] Warren said she eventually “stopped checking it off”.[63]

Warren said her family talked of links through her maternal grandparents’ lines to the Cherokee and Delaware peoples in Oklahoma.[55] On April 27, the Warren campaign said she had never authorized HLS to claim her as a minority hire.[47] On May 4, Harvard refused to confirm whether Warren was the one Native American minority claimed in its 2011 diversity report, which notes it is based on self-reporting. No gender was indicated.[49]

On May 12, the Boston Globe reported that, in providing federal diversity data statistics, the Harvard Law School (HLS) had reported employing a Native American woman professor in 1992-93, when Warren was a visiting professor; and for at least six consecutive years beginning 1995-96, after Warren had returned as a tenured professor.[64][65] The diversity census notes: “Race/Ethnicity designations are from self-report data.”[49] The same day, the AP reported that in 1994, the University of Pennsylvania listed Warren as a minority (she was still working there). She had not identified as such earlier in her career, neither when applying to Rutgers Law School nor when teaching at the University of Texas.[66]

On May 25, Alan Ray, the former Harvard Law School administrator responsible for its diversity statistics during the period examined, confirmed that the data came from self-reporting by faculty; he said that Harvard “always accepted whatever identification a faculty member wanted to provide”.[46] (Ray is an enrolled member of the Cherokee nation.[46])

On May 31, Warren acknowledged for the first time that she had told people at Penn and Harvard that she was Cherokee, but denied that “there was [any] reporting for this”.[64] She said she had learned of Harvard’s diversity census after reading about it in the Boston Herald.[64]

In a campaign appearance in early June, Warren repeated that she had not received any preferential treatment due to her claimed minority status. “I never received any benefit from it. Every single person who has been involved in hiring me has issued a statement to that effect.”[67] In campaign appearances in early June 2012 posted on YouTube, Elizabeth Warren said that, if elected by Massachusetts voters, “I would be their first Senator, so far as I know, who has Native American heritage.” [68][69]

Yet as indicated just below the sub-heading on the historical Wikipedia page above, someone has been objecting to such a detailed explanation.  Those efforts resulted in a truncated version of the subsection by early September, after which point — on or about September 13 — the subsection was removed and the explanation buried in a few sentences in the 2012 Election section.

The history of the page reveals that there was an ongoing attempt to cleanse the page of substantial information (also here) about the Cherokee controversy:

Warren Wikipedia Cherokee Controversy Talk

The net result of this effort is that there no longer is a Cherokee Controversy subsection, and the entire discussion of Elizabeth Warren’s claim to be Cherokee are three sentences meant to present Warren in the most favorable light possible:

Warren Wikipedia 1-7-2013

In April 2012, the Boston Herald reported that in the 1990s, Harvard Law School had, in response to criticisms about the lack of faculty diversity, publicized Warren’s law directory entries from 1986 to 1995, which listed her as having Native American ancestry.[47][48][49] Warren said she identified herself as a minority in the law directory listing (of the 1980s and 1990s) in hopes of being invited to events to meet people of similar background.[50][51] Harvard Law professor Charles Fried, who had served as Solicitor General in the Reagan administration [52] and had sat on the appointing committee that recommended Warren for hire in 1995, said that her heritage was never mentioned and played no role in the appointments process.[47]

The current entry not only is woefully incomplete, it is misleading.

Harvard promoted Warren as Native American because Warren represented herself on federal filing forms to be Native American; the law directory only revealed that she was a “Minority Law Teacher.”  Warren’s explanation of why she listed herself that way in the law directory makes no sense, as indicated at the top of this post.  Charles Fried’s statement referenced, while accurate in isolation, ignores the fact that Warren and Harvard refuse to release her hiring file, which would be the best evidence of who knew what when.  Also, just about everyone else at Harvard seemed to know that she was claiming to be Native American, including the Harvard Women’s Law Journal which in 1993, while Warren was a Visiting Professor, listed her as a Woman of Color in Legal Academia.

The current Wikipedia page has been cleansed of Warren’s most embarrassing ethnic history, a history which is a fundamental part of the political controversy surrounding her.

We will continue to investigate these changes, including attempting to ascertain who it was that engaged in this ethnic cleansing.  If there are readers who are savvy in the ways of Wikipedia, we welcome your assistance.

Update 7:50 p.m. Eastern — There as been a partial restoration of the page after a debate among editors at Wikipedia in response to this post:

Warren Wikipedia 1-8-2013 updated

One of the editors, who did not get his way, said this post should be ignored because Legal Insurrection “looks like a fairly standard-issue wingnut blog. Why should anyone take it seriously?” Fortunately, another editor called the person out on it.

Update 1-8-2013 Cherokee controversy restored to Elizabeth Warren Wikipedia page

Update 1-30-2013 — We created our own, Announcing


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Thank you for your diligent work with this interesting situation, professor. Perhaps this can be filed away as “What if a Republican/Non-Democrat did this”?

If you have the original text perhaps Warren’s history can be revised to be more accurate. Wiping this story is part of the effort underway to set her up for 2016, to replace Hillary Clinton.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to Juba Doobai!. | January 7, 2013 at 9:31 am
    William A. Jacobson in reply to Juba Doobai!. | January 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I don’t know how to edit Wikipedia, but if someone does, there’s nothing stopping them — other than the person who purged the entry in the first place. If anyone tries and runs into trouble, please grab the screenshots and links and send them to me.


      That’s not quite accurate. On controversial subjects (Global Warming and DDT come to mind), Wikipedia employs “gate-keepers” to delete all comments that conflict with the party line. During their recent fund-raising drive, I sent them this:

      I’ve donated to Wikipedia in the past, but will no longer do so until you change your policy on “gatekeepers” deleting all information that calls into question the “party line” on a number of subjects. I recently tried to add a scientific study showing that DDT was not as toxic as the government says, but it was immediately deleted.

      Sorry, you guys are too biased for me.

I am savvy on Wiki.

Just change it back. When it is changed again you can protest to the Wiki masters.

    It’s the Wiki-masters who are doing the whitewashing. Most Wikipedia admins are hyper-partisan liberals, and are quite bold about placing their thumbs on the scale.

    IceColdTroll in reply to [email protected]. | January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I was just over there (1530 EST) and evidently EDITING HAS BEEN DISABLED.

      It’s been “semi-protected”, which means that it can’t be edited without a login. Registered accounts still have access.

      Get what you pay for with that site. I call it the politically correct encyclopedia. Reminds me of the propaganda now serving as high school history texts forced upon public schools.

    You can protest in one hand, and crap in the other and see which one fills up first.

    Wikipedia allows NO opinions that vary from the liberal party line on any subject.

    It’s really too bad, because Wikipedia is a great concept.

This is why I do not allow my students to cite Wikipedia as a reference.

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to rec_lutheran. | January 7, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Wikipedia citation = “I know this dude, who has this friend, who told him that a cousin of his mother’s best friend, mentioned that a dude she knows from Bingo said that…”

At least Wiki seems to have quit the fund raising messages that were at the top of each page. If they want any money from me, they need to stop the bias.

I do believe that it is safe to say/type, that these next four years are going to prove extremely difficult for our nation.

With elections, or appointments (barney) bringing us Senator’s, or in the case of warren, Senatourette’s, appointee’s to the Court of tribal chieftain barry (kerry, hagel, et al) and/or the what once was termed, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling by decree (E.O.) and NOT the document, that was known as The Constitution, we should tightly hold on hats ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.

The first attack is at hand. Amendment #2. The next (ihmo) Amendment #22.

The memory hole! Swoosh!

I have been surprised at how flat-footed the new Senator has been. She can’t define middle class and she spoiled the Diane Sawyer cluckfest when she interrupted Susan Collins with birth control chatter. I expected her to be more polished, sophisticated, articulate, etc..!

    I expected her to be more polished, sophisticated, articulate, etc..!

    I didn’t.

    Afaic she exemplifies how the leftist part of the ruling class behaves. Which is why upscale MA voters were unruffled by the revelations about her. They’re sophisticated, you know.

    The Memory Hole, you beat me to it Jacksonjay. With dems its the toilet. They frolic in it, indeed are quite content in its porcelain environment. It comes in handy to flush away any unpleasant truths. Plus, like monkeys, they can sling feces while safe within its perimeter.

    Crawford in reply to jacksonjay. | January 7, 2013 at 11:51 am

    “I expected her to be more polished, sophisticated, articulate, etc..!”


    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to jacksonjay. | January 7, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Like Prez-O-Bama, she’s a clinical narcissist and is above embarrassment, shame or recognition of hypocrisy.

Fraud is hardly a disqualifier for the US Senate. If it were, the large majority of the current Senate would not be there. So the question is, does the Democrat party like to hire frauds? This way they have some control over you: “vote the way we want you to or else we’ll publicize ____________.”

What’s that you say? Wikipedia being edited to advance a left-wing agenda by deleting unflattering facts?


(Why anyone expects anything else from Wikipedia is a mystery. Everything there should be taken with a ton of salt. Look at their “no primary sources” policy to start with — they don’t want facts, they want consensus, and only THEIR consensus.)

I suck at wikipedia but if someone has the originals I can pdf them and host the files one a few servers.

TrooperJohnSmith | January 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

When confronted with this information, Warren admitted she had filled out forms listing herself as Native American, claiming she wanted to meet other Native Americans. That explanation was irrational because the faculty directory only listed her as “minority,” not as “Native American,” so putting herself on that list was not a way to meet other Native Americans.

Better yet, Lizzy, go home to Oklahoma for a few days and walk down the street in any town or city in and around the Nations. Most of those folks who look nothing like you are Indians. Or go to a casino, you dumb cluck.

Really… Democrats are starting to give ‘stupid’ a bad name.

Glad to see you continuing to bulldog this dangerous far left wacko, Professor. She is in the initial stages of being anointed by the media jackals as the Jesus to Hillary Clinton’s John the Baptist, and our first female President. We must continue the incessant Alinsky style mockery and ridicule, as well as diligent opposition research, essentially doing to her what the Democrats have done to Sarah Palin.

    1. One reason Warren is so unimpressive one-on-one is that she is a sockpuppet for unidentified power brokers about whom I’d be most interested to learn more. She does not stand on her own feet as a politician. Her puppetmasters could be in for a shock if she got to the White House, but that’s a separate issue.

    2. Continued muckraking on Warren is worthwhile, but conservatives are kidding themselves if we think the effects will be comparable to the success of the attacks on Palin. The playing field is not level and the referees are biased.

    snopercod in reply to John Skookum. | January 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Is this Skookum from FA? I really miss your posts over there but bailed on that forum due to the hostile posting environment.

With such widespread notice (not necesarily coverage) in major media, the Stalinist rubout at that wikipedia page is inexcuseable. On a lark, I started up a story, to see how many major media stories and news sources I could create a timeline with about the Elizabeth Warren/Native American story. The results speak for themselves.

For the editor of that wikipedia page to go glossy on this important part of the history of that senatorial seat… weak sauce!

Feel free to add to that timeline if I left out anything important. Storify is a pretty handy tool for this sort of thing.

OMG! My favorite cookbook “Pow Wow Chow” has disappeared!

I appreciate your fine work in summarizing the faults of my soon to be senior Senator from the Democractic Republic of Massachusetts. However, you seemed to have left out possibly the most juicy tidbit, and one which should have doomed her campaign, regarding her ‘trail of tears’ moment.

Reporting from behind enemy lines,

Here ya go.

Hey, Wikipedia is not such a bad idea for non-contentious topics. But that’s where its utility ends. Period.

How sad that such a great idea is hardly objective.

[…] Yesterday morning, William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection reported that Elizabeth Warren’s Wikipedia entry had been scrubbed of any mentions of her supposed Cherokee heritage. […]

Why are the Koch’s and other such donors spending money on useless pols when they should be spending it on obtaining or setting up sites like Wikipedia to correct the false narratives of the commies? I wish I had the skills to set up something like WP.

    Actually, if the Kochs would hire about, oh say, 7-8 people to sit in front of computers and edit Wikipedia, much of the Stalinization and Memory-holing could be countered.

    Wikipedia is a seriously important battleground in the culture wars, and conservatives are getting their a$$es kicked just by being out-numbered. But most of the damage is being done by a fairly small handful of dedicated liberal hacks. It wouldn’t take that many new users to frustrate their efforts.
    theres the software.
    grab a server and have at it 🙂

[…] January 7, 2013, Legal Insurrection noted that the entire section about controversy surrounding Elizabeth […]