July 14, 2008

Questionable claim #1

Friday I came across three questionable claims in a row. Being the skeptical type, I had to investigate these claims. Here's my first report from the questionable claims dept.


Titla:  The audacity of inclusionTwo men, Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Tom Cole, have made their marks as being the only two Native American men to serve in Congress.Fact:

Bureau of Indian Affairs:  Answers to Frequently Asked QuestionsU.S. Senate:

  • Hiram R. Revels, Lumbee from Mississippi, 1870-1871

  • Mathew Stanley Quay, Abenaki or Delaware from Pennsylvania, 1887-1899 and 1901-1904

  • Charles Curtis, Kaw from Kansas, 1907-1912 and 1915-1929 (Vice-President from 1929-1933)

  • Robert L. Owens, Cherokee from Oklahoma, 1907-1925

  • U.S. House of Representatives:

  • Charles Curtis, Kaw from Kansas, 1893-1907

  • Charles D. Carter, Choctaw from Oklahoma, 1907-1927

  • W.W. Hastings, Cherokee from Oklahoma, 1915-1921 and 1923-1935

  • Will Rogers, Jr., Cherokee from California, 1943-1944

  • William G. Stigler, Chocktaw from Oklahoma, 1944-1952

  • Benjamin Reifel, Rosebud Sioux from South Dakota, 1961-1971

  • Clem Rogers McSpadden, Cherokee from Oklahoma, 1972-1975
  • Titla is an impressive candidate for Congress. But we can't let misinformation go uncorrected when we can correct it.

    Perhaps she meant the only two Native American men to serve in Congress recently (since Campbell is no longer in office) or in her lifetime. But it didn't sound like it.

    Why bother with such a claim? Whenever I hear a claim about a Native "first," I wonder. Indians have led modern, successful lives for at least 100 years, if not longer. It doesn't help anyone to pretend that they're just now accomplishing things that others accomplished decades ago. Rather, it has the subtle effect of portraying them as less capable than they really are.


    writerfella said...

    Writerfella here --
    Just as John Herrington mistakenly claims to be 'the first Native American into space,' so others claim 'firsts' just as spuriously. The question actually becomes: WHY would anyone have to claim such a status, in "the land of the free and the home of the brave"?
    All Best
    Russ Bates

    Rob said...

    I don't know that Herrington has ever claimed to be the first Native in space. Others may have claimed he was the first, but that's not the same thing.