Elizabeth Warren’s Birther Moment

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2012-05-06 23:33Z by Steven

Elizabeth Warren’s Birther Moment

The New York Times

Kevin Noble Maillard, Associate Professor of Law
Syracuse University

If you are 1/32 Cherokee and your grandfather has high cheekbones, does that make you Native American? It depends. Last Friday, Republicans in Massachusetts questioned the racial ancestry of Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate candidate. Her opponent, Senator Scott Brown, has accused her of using minority status as an American Indian to advance her career as a law professor at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas. The Brown campaign calls her ties to the Cherokee and Delaware nations a “hypocritical sham.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, Warren defended herself, saying, “Native American has been a part of my story, I guess since the day I was born, I don’t know any other way to describe it.” Despite her personal belief in her origins, her opponents have seized this moment in an unnecessary fire drill that guarantees media attention and forestalls real debate…

…The Republican approach to race is to feign that it is irrelevant — until it becomes politically advantageous to bring it up. Birthers question Obama’s state of origin (and implicitly his multiracial heritage) in efforts to disqualify him from the presidency. They characterize him as “other.” For Warren, Massachusetts Republicans place doubts on her racial claims to portray her as an opportunistic academic seeking special treatment. In both birther camps, opponents look to ancestral origins as the smoking gun, and ride the ambiguity for the duration…

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Elizabeth Warren says she’s Native American. So she is.

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Women on 2012-05-06 23:14Z by Steven

Elizabeth Warren says she’s Native American. So she is.

The Washington Post

David Treuer

Suddenly many Americans wonder what it means that Elizabeth Warren, who is vying for Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate seat, has identified herself as having Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage. The claim wasn’t sudden, but the furor is.

Some 20 years ago, she listed herself as a minority in a directory of law professors. Recently the authenticity of her heritage, and her reasons for claiming it, have been called into question on the campaign trail. However, the debate should not be about whether she deserves this minority status, but whether we live in a meritocracy…

…An Indian identity is something someone claims for oneself; it is a matter of choice. It is not legally defined and entails no legal benefits. Being an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe, however, is a legal status that has nothing to do with identity and everything to do with blood quantum. Members must meet requirements set by the tribe in consultation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. (Elizabeth Warren is not enrolled in a tribe and doesn’t seem to have sought such status. She doesn’t claim an Indian identity, just Indian ancestry.) Indians who are not enrolled in a tribe aren’t eligible for the aforementioned programs and benefits, including casino profits, education assistance, hunting privileges and housing…

…My father is Jewish, but I didn’t really grow up around any of my Jewish relatives, so claiming a Jewish identity — despite that heritage — would feel strange, presumptuous, disrespectful. On my mother’s side we have an ancestor by the name of Bonga, who was African and ended up at Leech Lake in Minnesota, where he married a woman of the Ojibwe tribe, and where I grew up. Despite this heritage, it would likewise feel very odd to claim that I am African or African American. (I am something like one-156th African.)…

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Amy Locklear Hertel to Head American Indian Center at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2012-05-06 22:51Z by Steven

Amy Locklear Hertel to Head American Indian Center at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Indian Country Today

Tanya Lee

Amy Locklear Hertel, newly-selected director of the American Indian Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was admonished by her grandmother to pursue her education. “Grandmother told me to get all the education you can. What you learn in your head no one can take away. You need to learn all you can and use it to serve your community. I like to think she would be proud of me,” says Locklear Hertel, who starts her new job May 1.

“All the education you can get” so far includes a B.A. in interpersonal communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), a master’s degree in social work and a Juris doctor from Washington University in St. Louis and a nearly-completed Ph.D. from Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work.
Going back to UNC will take Locklear Hertel, her husband and their young children, Ava, 3, and Ahren, 1, back home. “I’ve wanted to go home for years, but the right opportunity never came up. I know my purpose is to serve our tribal communities in North Carolina. When this position became available, I felt like I had been training for it all along, with my interdisciplinary work, advocacy, and research in tribal communities. This job fits my interests and abilities and for me it answers the question, ‘How can I best serve our communities?’” Her family and community have been generous in welcoming her home. “Everybody back home has been wonderful, welcoming us,” she says. “They told me when I left I had to come back to serve in this community.”
Locklear Hertel grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a place halfway between her mother’s Coharie and her father’s Lumbee communities that her parents chose so that she and her younger brother would be able to participate in the life of both tribes. Her father worked in a glass factory, and her mother in the Fayetteville school system…

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