Cherokee tie found 5 generations ago
By Hillary Chabot
“She would be 1⁄32nd of Elizabeth Warren’s total ancestry,” noted genealogist Christopher Child said, referring to the candidate’s great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, who is listed on an Oklahoma marriage certificate as Cherokee. Smith is an ancestor on Warren’s mother’s side, Child said.
“To suggest that she needed some special advantage to be hired here or anywhere is just silly. She was hired for her great abilities as a teacher and a scholar. Her family tree had nothing to do with it,” wrote Jay Westbrook, chairman of the business law school at the University of Texas at Austin, who hired Warren.
Suzan Shown Harjo, a former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, expressed outrage yesterday after learning that Warren had identified herself as a Native American on law school records without documentation.
“If you believe you are these things then that’s fine and dandy, but that doesn’t give you the right to claim yourself as Native American,” said Harjo, who said Warren might have taken a job another Native American could have received.
Documenting her ancestry would be relevant if she were up for a Native-oriented job, but she wasn't. So the documentation isn't the key issue. The key issue is whether we should consider her Native even with the documentation. I'd say no.
For more on the subject, see Warren Column Uses Native Stereotypes and Warren Questioned About Native Heritage.