Tribal scholars say some faculty are falsely claiming American Indian heritage to boost their job prospects.
According to Chenault, some job candidates simply “check the box” for American Indian/Alaskan Native on job forms, hoping to be identified as minority faculty and thus reap the benefits of any available affirmative action plans. There is responsibility, however, that comes with checking the box, she says. “We need committed, passionate people who will help other Native people gain access to universities and colleges.”
Chenault argues that not requiring proof of tribal enrollment reflects mainstream institutions’ lack of commitment to genuine diversity. She says allowing those with marginal tribal ties to represent the Native community only diminishes the importance of indigenous academics and opens the discipline to attack.
Haskell and the other tribal colleges require proof of tribal affiliation from all faculty and staff claiming American Indian heritage.
The term refers to those in academic programs who not only falsely claim tribal affiliation but also set themselves up as official purveyors of American Indian culture and religion. Some of the professors Noley has labeled as mock-checkers have been known to conduct so-called sacred ceremonies as part of their courses.Many of the ceremonies, however, are little more than amalgamations of parts of disparate ceremonies or outright fabrications.
The reports of questionable ceremonial activities have included stories of faculty taking students on trips to search for their power animals, teaching “sacred” dances, conducting ceremonies each time reservation land was crossed and others.