Political Animal


September 29, 2012 2:20 PM Why Liz Warren’s Cherokee Scandal Isn’t Going Away

By Simon van Zuylen-Wood

This week, Scott Brown staffers taunted Liz Warren supporters by making chopping motions with their arms, while emanating what can only be described as “Indian sounds.” Last week, Brown’s very first comment at the very first Mass. Senate debate was an attack on Warren’s claims of Native American heritage. Brown’s strategy, of course, stems from evidence unearthed by the Boston Herald that Warren had listed herself as Native American in various law school directories.

While Warren may not have much of a claim to actual Native American ancestry, there’s no evidence that “checking the box” actually helped her get anywhere. Still, the story refuses to go away, and the “Fauxcahontas” revelations will forever be invoked if Warren loses in November. This story broke in April. How is it still a big deal?

The story persists in part because Scott Brown and the conservative Boston Herald can’t get enough of it. But I think it also owes its staying power to the bad memories many Massachusettseans associate with affirmative action, which is what this whole scandal is really about. Recall that in the 1970s, South Boston—where Scott Brown has planted his headquarters—was ground zero for the school busing battles that tore the city apart. After a federal judge mandated that Boston public schools bus minority children to white neighborhoods, and vice-versa, integration opponent and City Councilwoman Louisa Day Hicks formed the group “Restore Our Alienated Rights,” the staunchest anti-busing group in the country.

Here’s how PBS described the scene in Southie:

When school started in the fall of 1974, white parents met the buses of black students with racial epithets, stones and bottles. They shattered windows and sent black students home with broken glass in their hair.

Two decades later, a group of parents from Lynn, Massachusetts—another working-class enclave—sued the city over a forced school desegregation plan it had implemented in 1988. Ten years after that, one of Mitt Romney’s first moves as Governor was to quash a decades-old affirmative action policy that encouraged diversity hiring in state government.

All this is to say: Massachusetts has a fraught history with affirmative action and desegregation*, and many middle-class and working-class whites feel racial quotas stacked the deck against them and their children. Scott Brown, while no bigot, is pooling from the same sort of voters that rebelled against those policies in Southie, Lynn and elsewhere. Revelations that an elite, liberal Cambridge professor may have benefitted from affirmative action are going to resonate with them.

*Update: I added the word ‘desegregation’ here

Simon van Zuylen-Wood is a writer for Philadelphia Magazine.


  • TR on September 29, 2012 2:35 PM:

    God, people are such idiots.

    "Well, sure, she'll do a lot to help insure the credit card companies and Wall Street banks don't ruin our lives, and help make sure we keep our new health insurance and the economy keeps recovering. ... But she might have once exaggerated how much Native American blood was in her grandmother, so screw her."

  • c u n d gulag on September 29, 2012 2:35 PM:

    Hey, even in "Blue" NY State, we've got our @$$holes!

    Tawana Brawley went to my HS - ten years after I graduated - and I thought her story was entirely plausible when I first heard it.
    One of my best friends since JHS is black, and I can't tell you the number of times we had incidents or issues because of his skin color.

    Another thing not in Warren's favor, is that she's not a native of MA - and Brown clearly is.
    Plus, she's a Professor, and he ain't none too bright - except as a politician. He's a pretty smart politico. Which is why what his people did looks so bad. He should have told his team to stick to dog-whistles, and not do any tomahawk chops and war whoop's.

  • Anonymous on September 29, 2012 2:38 PM:

    You casually drop the phrase "....Scott Brown, while no bigot..." Why? Doesn't the use of this issue suggest otherwise????

  • DJ on September 29, 2012 2:44 PM:

    You also drop the contention that Warren "doesn't have much claim" to American Indian ancestry. She is 1/32 Cherokee, precisely the same as the current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

    Better weekend staff, please.

  • Simon van Zuylen-Wood on September 29, 2012 2:52 PM:

    I generally try not to respond to commenters (at least in the comments) but I thought I'd point DJ to a passage from the Garance Franke-Ruta post I linked to above:

    Even if it could be proven [that Warren was 1/32 Cherokee], it wouldn't qualify her to be a member of a tribe: Contrary to assertions in outlets from The New York Times to Mother Jones that having 1/32 Cherokee ancestry is "sufficient for tribal citizenship," "Indian enough" for "the Cherokee Nation," and "not a deal-breaker," Warren would not be eligible to become a member of any of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes based on the evidence so far surfaced by independent genealogists about her ancestry.

  • MuddyLee on September 29, 2012 2:54 PM:

    South Boston sounds a lot like South Carolina - unfortunately. It would seem to me that Scott Brown's history of being a model for Cosmopolitan would be more of a negative than Elizabeth Warren's history of being a college professor - did repubs hate Newt in the primaries because he was a former professor? Of course it wasn't at Harvard for Newt.

  • golack on September 29, 2012 3:05 PM:

    The history of Native American tribes and tribal recognition is complex. There were attempts by the US to de-legitimize various tribes at various times. And as noted on Wikipedia:
    "Federal courts have not universally required membership in federally recognized tribes for a person to be classified as Indian. At times a person's membership in a federally recognized tribe was not sufficient for classification as Indian in the eyes of the courts.[8]"

    with footnote 8 being:
    ^ United States v. Antelope, 430 US 641, 646-47 n.7 (1977) stated that enrollment in a recognized tribe was not an absolute requirement for federal jurisdiction where the Indian defendant lived on the reservation and "maintained tribal relations with the Indians thereon." Alberty v. United States, 162 US 499, 500-01 (1896) held that neither a former black slave who had been granted membership in the Cherokee nation nor the illegitimate son of a Chocktaw and a black woman who had married a Chocktaw Indian, were Indians, discussion in Brownell (2001) p283

    and the source:
    Brownell, Margo S. (2001) "Who is an Indian? Searching for an Answer to the Question at the Core of Federal Indian Law." Michigan Journal of Law Reform 34(1-2):275-320.

  • mariner from MA on September 29, 2012 3:08 PM:

    Other reasons are: she presents herself as one of the 99% and as having provided the intellectual basis for the Occupy movement; however, she made hundreds of thousands for representing Travelers Insurance against asbestos victims and LTV Steel in trying to screw employees out of pension benefits. She also makes $350,000 for teaching 1 class at Harvard Law where her husband is also a professor, so she's a phony 1 percenter masquerading as a 99 percenter, as well as by being 100% white whilst masquerading behind phony Native American roots to get affirmative action preference to get hired. Learn the whole story behind this carpet bagger before jumping on her phony bandwagon.

  • rrk1 on September 29, 2012 3:12 PM:

    As we all know by now, the standards for Dems are a lot different than for Rethugs. If Warren had a history of posing nude for any magazine she'd be toast. Brown wears it like a badge, over his crotch presumably, and smirks his way to being the 'guy-you-want-to-have-a-beer-with. I don't want to have a beer with him, no matter how good he looked eons ago with or without his clothes.

    The same racist mentality that committed violence in the busing war is also anti-intellectual, which is why Brown always calls her 'professor'. It's a form of ridicule, just like the bullies in the schoolyard pick on the smart kids for being smart. The stunt his staff played with the war cries and tomahawks points out just how juvenile, or perhaps sophomoric, his campaign is. He's not appealing to thinking people. Just the opposite, and that should tell you all you need to know about Scott Brown.

  • Yellowdog on September 29, 2012 3:16 PM:

    Why is the writer so quick to excuse Sen. Brown as "no bigot"? Doing something bigoted makes one a bigot. He knows exactly what he is doing. Why is he not ridiculed for it. He deserves scorn. He does not deserve an easy pass as not being what he very clearly is.

  • John Doherty on September 29, 2012 3:22 PM:

    Warren should publicly take a saliva swab DNA test. If there is a percentage of native blood, Brown will seem an ass to pursue it. If it's strictly european, then she goes with the family myth story, and earns points for showing she has nothing to hide.

  • jrosen on September 29, 2012 3:22 PM:

    I took up residence in the Boston area just as the busing crisis was brewing up. I came from Detroit, which I always thought had a strong racist strain. In fact there was a major race riot in 1943, clashes between displaced Southerners both white and black who migrated North to work for the war industries.

    But Boston, (the home of the 55th Massachusetts, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass) especially Southie and Charlestown made Detroit look like an NAACP picnic. It was (and still is to some degree) Irish tribal politics at its most vociferous. (An Irish buddy of mine informed me about Irish Alzheimer's: You forget everything but your resentments; and Southie has been home to more than one IRA fugitive from British and Republic of Ireland law.) But there is a history which while not excusing it, makes it understandable.

    The Irish refugees from the Potato Famine that washed up in New York and Boston were regarded as most new immigrant groups: animals or worse. They were harshly discriminated against in employment, in social status and most of all...as draftees in the Civil War who could not buy their way out of conscription ($300, probably more than a a year's pay for most of them). That was the proximate cause of the Manhattan riots that required Federal troops to quell. (This fueled their nascent racism in a big way...and then they,like so many of the downtrodden, vented their frustration on those below them, the blacks.) They did what all such do: they formed political clubs (read: machines), they went into the arts and sports, and they went into crime (The words "racketeer" and "hooligan" both have Irish origins.) The most prominent member of the Irish gangs that still hold sway in places is Whitey Bulger --- after whom the Jack Nicholson character in "The Departed" was modeled --- a fine product of Southie whose brother Billy was State Senate president (and a great supporter of the Boston Symphony, which is how I knew him...go figure).

    Most of the Irish-Americans today are more the latter than the former (except when they go to the homeland, where they tend to annoy and embarrass the natives by behaving according to the stereotype of the drunken lout.) But the Irish of working class Boston have remained insular, bitter, and sometimes violent. They (or their ancestors) do have some claim to victim status...but it is too bad that like (again) so many who gave suffered unfairly, they are tricked into aiming their anger below instead of where it belongs.

    If many Americans don't know enough history, maybe some know too much.

  • Pea on September 29, 2012 3:33 PM:

    It,s all about what she or he would vote for/against in the Senate. I,ll take the smart female Dem any day, and regardless (or perhaps partly because)of his bigoted assaults on her character I trust her integrity far more more than his...

  • Tim Connor on September 29, 2012 3:39 PM:

    I agree with the critics of this post. This is a sloppy post. Allegations are made that are not substantiated. If this party were writing here regularly, I would probably quit reading, unless the quality improved.

  • Dennis on September 29, 2012 3:41 PM:

    It looks to me as though referring to this as a 'scandal' gives Brown and the Boston Herald exactly what they're after, but in reality, it isn't a scandal but a ginned-up faux controversy over nothing. I'll tell you what offended me more than the tomahawk chops (and those were pretty damn offensive, if you ask me); it was Brown's assertion that he could tell by looking at her that she ISN'T Cherokee. I don't understand why that comment hasn't received more criticism from the left; it is an overtly bigoted remark.

  • Doug on September 29, 2012 3:44 PM:

    Let me see if I understand this correctly. Brown refuses to actively discourage acts considered racist, is "dog-whistling" or worse for political gain and yet the author concludes Brown "is no bigot"? As no evidence showing his personal lack of bigotry has been introduced, perhaps he isn't, but if Brown ISN'T a bigot, by his own actions he's shown himself to be worse.

    m from M, citations please concerning Professor Warrens' involvement in the two cases you mentioned. The rest of your whine seems to be an attempt to claim that because one's income is above a certain level, one cannot support certain policies without being a "phony".
    It fails.

  • R on September 29, 2012 3:51 PM:

    Thanks, Simon -- I hadn't thought of this connection. Makes perfect sense, though.

    @mariner: since there's "no evidence that 'checking the box' actually helped her get anywhere," I'm not ready to swallow your claims about her previous employment. In any case, does earning a certain amount make one ineligible to look out for the interests of the 99%? Elizabeth Warren has done more than any other single person to point out in gruesome detail the "tricks and traps" of the credit card industry. She sure pissed off Tim Geithner (and, earlier, Joe Biden of Delaware, because of her stand on bankruptcy laws), so she can't be all bad.

    As for "carpetbagger," well, that word in reference to someone who has lived in the state for 20 years kinda supports Simon's portrayal of some Massachusetts residents as a tad provincial.

  • Pontormo on September 29, 2012 4:02 PM:

    I agree that this post is sloppy and unprofessional.
    The assertion that Brown is not a bigot is not supported by his behavior and declaring that Warren is not Cherokee is equally unsupported by available facts.
    Get better weekend bloggers please.

  • Ken on September 29, 2012 4:08 PM:

    Does not acting like a bigot make one a bigot? What did Washington Monthly do? Bring in a troll. Way below WM standards.

  • matt w on September 29, 2012 4:19 PM:

    Four points:

    1. Agreed with all the pushback against the idea that we can assume Brown's no bigot;

    2. Thanks for the Garance Franke-Ruta quote, but it's not on point to the question of whether Warren has Native ancestry, and it's from a four-month-old piece. Since then additional evidence has emerged to support Warren;

    more important, the post rests on two unsupported assumptions:

    3. What evidence is there that the Cherokee "scandal" isn't going away? I've seen no polling that suggests it's hurting Warren. All we know is that people are talking about it because Brown has made it the centerpiece of his campaign. All this proves is that Scott Brown is an asshole (see also "thank God she didn't pose nude" and his comments about Joseph Stack), and also that right-wing blogs and media can whip themselves into an eternal frenzy over nothingburgers that no one else cares about. Fox is still talking about Solyndra, for crying out loud.

    4. Most of the history you cite isn't about affirmative action. It's about school desegregation. Different things, you know? And what it shows isn't that Massachusetts has a fraught history with affirmative action, it's that it has a fraught history with racism, like the rest of the country.

  • matt w on September 29, 2012 4:24 PM:

    Adding to the point on affirmative action vs. desegregation, the only point that actually had to do with affirmative action here was Romney's ending of diversity hiring. But according to the link Simon provides, Romney did that silently, and it caused a public furor when people learned of it two months later, and the next governor changed the policies back with no apparent outcry. Doesn't sound like the biggest crowd-pleaser, does it?

  • Cha on September 29, 2012 4:35 PM:

    This article is JUNK. Elizabeth Warren totally explained it in an Ad answering Scott's lies. She didn't get any favors from acknowledging she's part Native American. And, Scott Brown explained his A$$hole self in the first debate.

    Where the heck is Steve Benen when you need him? Steve, pleases take this on?

    It's not going away because Scott Brown stepped into a pile of racist shit with his mouth at the first debate. Loser.

    I want to thank all the others in the comments section who are speaking up for Reality.

  • James E. Powell on September 29, 2012 4:40 PM:

    This ginned up 'scandal' persists because just about any bullshit thing that the right-wing puts out there persists. Why? Because they own enough of the press/media to make sure it persists.

    And so long as Brown insists that it's an issue, and that it matters, the "both sides" contingent of the press/media has to behave as if it's an issue, and that it matters.

    And by writing this, you, Simon van Zuylen-Wood, have shown that you are part of that "both sides" contingent.

  • Rachel Q on September 29, 2012 4:56 PM:

    I think Elizabeth Warren has done great things for consumers, and I'd vote for her if I had the chance.

    That said, she's been stupid about this. Continuing to argue about what fraction of her genes might be Native American just prolongs the agony. Her predominant heritage is not Native American, and she should never have claimed it was. Just apologize already. If she would say she lost sight of what was important and hopes very much that neither white nor Indian candidates were disadvantaged by her decision then I think people would give her a break.

  • esaud on September 29, 2012 5:19 PM:

    If she wanted, Elizabeth Warren could run more damaging ads showing Scott Brown as a lightweight - his nude centerfold; his "I meet all the time with kings and queens" schtick, something bluemassgroup found that rhe repeated sever times; his openly bigoted staff.

    But I think she's right to stick to his voting record. Right wingers would be jazzed by character assassination, but left wingers would be put off by it.

    Brown made a 180 degree turn from running ads about how well he gets along with Democrats, what a centrist he is, to nothing but Warren's ancestry. My guess is that his tea party base was getting antsy and they wanted to throw some red meat to them.

    This is truly the oddest campaign strategy I ever saw, to go from centrist to full metal wingnut. Time will tell, but I hope to god he loses.

    And as far as the issue going away or not, that is entirely up to Brown's campaign staff. I have a hard time believing they will be running these ads for another month without doing really bad damage to himself with the "centrists" he originally targeted getting really turned off.

  • Charles Giacometti on September 29, 2012 5:29 PM:

    Watch the video where Brown's top staffers engage in rank bigoted behavior. Then ask yourself which of the following is acceptable.

    1. Brown is a bigot too.
    2. Brown condones bigoted behavior.
    3. Brown can't control his staff.
    4. Brown isn't bright enough to know all of the key people around him are bigots.
    5. Brown will use bigoted behavior to win votes from bigots.

    The answer is that one or more of these are true none of the above is acceptable. All of the above are reprehensible.

    And the knuckle-draggers who comment here only to criticize Warren are either bigots or condone bigoted behavior.

    This is 2012. What on earth is wrong with these people?

  • T2 on September 29, 2012 5:32 PM:

    Either she has proof of a bloodline or she falsified it. This ain't rocket science.

  • stratplayer on September 29, 2012 5:42 PM:

    Either she has proof of a bloodline or she falsified it. This ain't rocket science.

    I'm thinking it might actually be rocket science for you. The third possibility is that she sincerely believed what her parents and grandparents had always told her about their family since childhood.

  • alwaysiamcaesar on September 29, 2012 5:43 PM:

    Not sure where this fits in . Southie has one unclaimed historic achievement that while nibbled around the edges here , is unremarked . Southie remained the poorest white American neighborhood for forty years . If you want to measure where resentment found its most fertile breeding it would be in those three and a half generations . The style of anarchy that was met in its representation , may be specifically found where when insisting upon special rules for their neighborhoods such as triple parking , which took Broadway down to a snake path , it was by and large accepted . When the recently deceased City Council President James M. Kelly insisted against common sense , the law , and the Mayor that placing objects on the street to "reserve" parking for who ever had shovled out the space , he won his point . The catastrophic fires that beset Southie appeared to have been set to lubricate sclerotic citizens into the idea that not behaving predictably when someone wanted something of yours , could get you very dead . A gentleman who was jailed for being partners with one of the Bulger criminals , for being in the same vein , forced to sell his package store . The details are fuzzy to me now but he served time because he didn't want to say goodbye to his family by ending up dead . Something about how little Whitey paid for his package store property . Whitey could not launder his money fast enough so he bought winning lottery tickets , and had good friends give him things like their package store .
    I won't dignify the comment that place a generous view eminent scholar and haircut senator Scott Brown's nearest reflection of himself , his staff .

  • Millerlite on September 29, 2012 5:45 PM:

    This site has gone to hell since S. Benen left. I occasionally come here, but find it substandard.

  • MPB on September 29, 2012 5:48 PM:

    As a working class Irish Bostonian, I'm always amused when people talk about the city as if its perpetually 1975. South Boston is a yuppie enclave now and bears no resemblance to the Departed. The working class Irish union workers of the city are some of Warrens biggest supporters. Brown's base are the middle class suburbanites who listen to Howie Carr.

    I mean, Deval Patrick won Southie handily in his elections. Louise Day Hicks is long dead and the busing crisis is ancient history.

  • Lis Carey on September 29, 2012 5:49 PM:

    Elizabeth Warren has what many of us have: oral family history telling her she has Native American ancestry. In her case, it includes her parents having to elope because her father's parents wouldn't accept her mother because of that known ancestry.

    Whether she has documentation for it or not is irrelevant. Nor is there any reason whatsoever for her to take a DNA test.

    The reaction here in MA was mostly astonishment at the crude and stupid way Brown opened the debate with this nonsense and kept pounding on it throughout--because it didn't move the polls AT ALL back in the spring, when this was a new "scandal" and people didn't already have pre-formed opinions on it.

    The videos which have since emerged, of Brown staffers directing war whoops and tomahawk chops at Warren supporters or at the mention of her name, have damaged Brown far more than believing and repeating family stories have hurt Elizabeth Warren.

  • Barbara on September 29, 2012 5:55 PM:

    I didn't read all the other comments, but I must demur -- rather, must protest, your conclusion that "Scott Brown, while no bigot . . . etc. A person who trades on bigotry, who leverages it or foments it or capitalizes on it to get ahead IS A BIGOT. The war whoops and tomahawk chops of his supporters only provide the exclamation point. He is a nasty piece of work who is no nicer for being cute and taking advantage of the ACA to cover his adult children.

  • g on September 29, 2012 6:10 PM:

    She also makes $350,000 for teaching 1 class at Harvard Law where her husband is also a professor, so she's a phony 1 percenter masquerading as a 99 percenter

    $350,000 a year, while impressive enough, is hardly a member of the 1%. For that you need Romney.

  • bos'n on September 29, 2012 6:18 PM:

    Unlike probably any other poster on this website, I actually grew up in Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s. Many, many of my blue-eyed, blonde, red-haired, brunette, whatever classmates proudly claimed Indian heritage. It was a mark of pride despite the prejudice which full-blooded Indians faced at the time. As any Oklahoma school child could tell you, Oklahoma was the destination of the Five Civilized Tribes on the Trail of Tears, of which the Cherokee Nation were the most numerous participants. When Oklahoma was opened as a territory for settlement by white Americans, there were few Anglo women available for marriage or any other purpose. Many early settlers took Indian brides. Ms. Warren's family story, which she related in her debate with Scott Brown, sounded highly plausible to me. When I learned she was born in Oklahoma, I was certain that she was part Indian. Ticking boxes indicating membership in various formerly disregarded minorities became a point of pride in the 70s and 80s. I don't know the circumstances of her hiring at Harvard, but I doubt her being part Indian tipped the scales very much.

  • WaterGirl on September 29, 2012 6:19 PM:

    Simon van Zuylen-Wood, I find your post extremely offensive.

    Much of what I find so offensive has already been covered:
    - "Scott Brown, while no bigot" - are you kidding me?
    - "wouldn't qualify her to be a member of a tribe" - completely irrelevant

    Nope, nothing bigoted about a candidate who allows this billboard:

    And I have to ask. Do you know "Liz Warren" personally? Because I find your use of the familiar "Liz Warren" offensive also, and dismissive.

    Simon van Zuylen-Wood, having read this post by you, I do not plan to read any of the rest.

    Political Animal is truly going downhill if this is the caliber we can expect of guest bloggers.

  • Hue and Cry on September 29, 2012 6:54 PM:

    Scott Brown may or may not be a bigot, but there is specific video of him standing by and continuing to orate as the audience in front of him were audibly making fun of those with American Indian heritage-- hooting, as well as using stereotyped gestures of insult and ridicule.
    I saw it myself. Scott Brown said nothing to alert his group of supporters that what they were doing was offensive, racist and biased.
    Brown was right there in front of them, and 1)did not dissuade, 2) did not advise against it, or 3) failed to urge them not to be disparaging towards Native Americans.

  • Hue and Cry on September 29, 2012 7:22 PM:

    This didn't get on my original post:

    Scott Brown started the debate disparaging
    Elizabeth Warren's heritage, and he belittled, undervalued, discredited, and attempted to detract from her by relentlessly calling her 'professor' ---with a clear, demeaning tone of voice.
    The sheer repetition of it proved it was his intention.

    Even a casual observer could see he was mocking and denigrating her--his goal was to display the tea partiers' and right wing republicans' dismissive attitude towards teachers, educators, academic learning, enlightened discourse--and intellectuals in general.

    Which is explicitly downright scary.

    Politicians like Scott Brown aspire towards a nation without wisdom, insight or perception so the unenlightened continue to vote republican. No kidding there. That is a fact.

    It made him seem petty, ineffectual, negative and very much unimpressive.

  • Kansachusetts on September 29, 2012 7:53 PM:

    My great-great grandmother was Native American, but I can't prove it either. I heard it from my grandfather and other relatives, who were alive when she was. But my father is 91 and has lost his memory of family stories, so I will never know where to start with the research. I'm sure it is true, but I'd be in trouble if I were running against Scott Brown today. (Though I'd probably still kick his butt, as hopefully Warren will.)

  • castanea on September 29, 2012 8:02 PM:

    "This site has gone to hell since S. Benen left. I occasionally come here, but find it substandard."

    True, that. I like Ed Kilgore's stuff, but the weekend bloggers seem to be somewhat lacking.

    I don't know why the state of blogging journalism is on the decline overall. Two years ago I began to notice how sites such as TPM became more enamored of Christine-O'Donnell-says-she's-not-a-witch stories and the great Falcon Lake pirate caper than of good, solid, intelligent writing.

  • Daddy Love on September 29, 2012 8:14 PM:

    SottBrown--ass thoroughly kicked. Any questions?

  • Daddy Love on September 29, 2012 8:19 PM:

    Scott Brown--ass thoroughly kicked. Any questions?

  • Gene O'Grady on September 29, 2012 8:30 PM:

    "Either she has proof of a bloodline or she falsified it." Well, my mother (who was repeatedly asked when she was doing military training in Oklahoma if she was, as they put it then, an Indian) put a great deal of effort into family genealogy and we kind of sort of claim Mayflower ancestry. However, although there seems to be good evidence we have not proof, but we didn't falsify it either. It's just unclear; any genealogy except Elizabeth II and Prince Philip is very likely to get into unclear or poorly sourced areas. One frequently finds as well that stories that came down for several generations may be dubious -- in my case, I ran a story about an ancestor who left the seminary in Ireland in 1830 by an Irish priest I trusted, and he told me it was very unlikely to be true.

  • emjayay on September 29, 2012 10:09 PM:

    You can be considered of Native American heritage with a small percentage of actual NA blood. Through inadvertent introduction of diseases, and much less inadvertent conquest, North America was stolen from the millions of people who lived here.

    In federal employment at least, there are disclaimers about how it's just a survey and doesn't count for anything in actual employment.

    I would want to acknowledge my relationship to indigenous people if I had any. So why not check the box? I would too.

  • John B. on September 29, 2012 10:09 PM:

    Cut poor young Simon van Zuylen-Wood some slack, why don't you? He's only been out of Brown a year and much of that time has been frittered away interning or something at the right-of-center New Republic. He wants to be a political writer. So don'tcha know, he can't be expected to really, you know, actually KNOW anything about Native Americans, Cherokee, Oklahoma, racism, Scott Brown, or the racist thugs Brown has welcomed onto his campaign team.

  • emjayay on September 29, 2012 10:16 PM:

    I agree with a number of other commenters. On weekends, it seems like randon grad students or whatever get to post on this blog. It would be better to not post anything.

    When I was in a photography class in college, we would bring in five or six prints each week and line them up for everyone to check out and respond to. I still remember times when the instructor flipped a couple of someone's prints down, and suddently the remaining ones looked a whole lot better. The substandard crap makes the whole presentation look a lot worse. Without them suddenly the rest looked like art.

  • Davis X. Machina on September 29, 2012 10:19 PM:

    But the Irish of working class Boston have remained insular, bitter, and sometimes violent. They don't live in Boston any more. They drove out of town, and kept going until they could afford the housing... interior Cape Ann, Plymouth County, to the west out beyond 495, in the old mill towns down near Rhode Island.

    Warren will carry the city. Obama carried Southie (Ward Six) in '08 60-40

  • Upper West on September 29, 2012 11:02 PM:

    Imagine Romney, in the first debate, says, "Barack Obama claims he's half white, but as you can see, he isn't." Romney would be toast. OK. He's toast anyway. But the obvious point is that the same statement by Brown re Warren is as racist as Romney's would be.

    Therefore, Mr. van Zuylen-Wood's comment that Brown is "no racist" is as tone deaf as Brown's comment that Warren is obviously not native American.

    The whole thing is bizarre -- Brown is essentially saying that Warren is a liar who tried to take advantage of affirmative action by checking a box. It's not just racism against Native Americans, but an attempt to appeal to the racism of all of those who are resentful of affirmative action.

    This post adds gas to this racist appeal fire by saying, without support, that the issue "won't go away." It's either Slate/NR harmful contrarianism by van Z-W or sympathy with the Brown reverse racism appeal.

    This place should not be an echo chamber, but it should not provide phony support for a disgusting, phony Republican attempt to slander a Democrat and avoid the real issues.

  • TCinLA on September 29, 2012 11:13 PM:

    Southies - proof the English were right about the southern Irish.

  • TCinLA on September 29, 2012 11:22 PM:

    Simon van Zuylen-Wood - you're definitely no Chris Hayes.

    Your "analysis" of this political situation is so shallow I doubt my toes would get wet if I waded through it.

  • James M on September 30, 2012 12:43 AM:

    Everyone should read the great post by @bos'n on September 29, 2012 6:18 PM above. I am also an Okie and was thinking about expressing similar sentiments but he did it much more succinctly and elegantly than I could have.

    I am Black and even I always assumed that I had some Indian blood, just due to the fact that so many people born in Oklahoma do. I too have always considered this possibility a point of pride. Had my mother told me I was part Indian I would never have doubted her (Why would I?).

    1 minor point: in terms of relevant percentages, the people I knew who considered themselves Indian or were very conscious of their Indian heritage tended to mention being either 1/4th or 1/8th. Finally, as pointed out above, how in hell could Scott Brown look at Liz Warren and tell she was lying about her Indian ancestry? I have known quite a few Cherokees with facial features quite similar to Professor Warren.

  • moronie on September 30, 2012 12:46 AM:

    There's something rather contemptuous about his effort to encourage me to be contemptous about Warren (just politics?). I would encourage her to find out as much as she can about her family history while there still may be relatives around to help fill in the blanks. The tintype of my great, great... grandmother has always intrigued me. She was native american and very much older when the image was taken. I have few relatives (that I know of) left who might have some information.

  • alwaysiamcaesar on September 30, 2012 10:00 AM:

    WaterGirl , my god you have managed to truly shock sedentary old me . Your contribution of a disgusting BettysBoomin picture , pushed shocking memories from the Civil Rights era's senseless violence into a disturbing , revolting side of lovely haircut and senator Scott Brown . I dislike attempts to provide a sententious relief for the haircut of Senator Scott Brown , and you covered that dislike with its poisonous skin , Thank You .
    Hue and Cry , aside from putting paid to the effort dismiss lovely senatorial haircut model , Scott Brown's "No Bigot" apologists , hither thither , and yon , you have placed an agreeable comparison to incomprehensible Great leap Forward of Scott Browns apparent hero Mao Zedong , who knew .
    I lived through that senseless period , here in New England . Distance and culture only diminished "The Great Leap Forward" horrors in degree . Measured by living through one of histories freshly buried and largest recorded tyrannical purges based on Mao's fantasy or whim , pick one , it is a real kick in the head seeing Scott Browns senatorial haircut mirror the ethical and moral equivalent .
    Tens of millions slaughtered for a dim idiological purpose certainly has as you say -
    ... the tea partiers' and right wing republicans' dismissive attitude towards teachers, educators, academic learning, enlightened discourse--and intellectuals in general ...
    - "DNA" all over it . Thank you .

  • Jim on September 30, 2012 4:00 PM:

    Scott Brown is the successor to Jesse Helms. If he isn't a bigot, he's a racist and he's trolling for bigots' votes.

  • Bethiefootie on September 30, 2012 4:24 PM:

    Mariner, I am not sure if you are just a professional troll or not but I will take a stab at correcting you. warren's work for travelers and for the mining company was entirely consistent with her work protecting the little guy. In effect, warren successfully argued the travelers case and in exchange they would est a $500m trust for current and future asbestos victims. She was protecting the victims although travelers reneged on the deal which is why travelers gave to the brown campaign and 0 to Warren, along with goldmans, BNY Mellon, jP morgan, morgan stanley etc...
    In ltv mingling warren was fighting for a principal in bankruptcy laws and was not involved in the lower cases but was involved in writing a partition to the SC about who would pay into the fund.

    But really, many knowledgable voters will decide to vote against re electing the Brown with a record of nada but taking credit for others work and a tendency of self aggrandizement.

    And yeah, bankruptcy is complicated but really read something other than the Herald and Howie Carr will ya?

  • Jim S on September 30, 2012 8:06 PM:

    bos'n has it right. My mom's family is from Oklahoma and I met my wife there in 1979. My wife is as the family figures it 1/16th Cherokee. Red hair. Blue eyes. One of her sisters is the same. The third sister, though, definitely looks the part of being part Cherokee. She has cousins who look almost full blooded. Genetics is an interesting thing. My wife has never tried to get on the tribal rolls or claimed minority status when applying for jobs. It's just part of the way things are in Oklahoma and what I've read and seen of Warren's history on the issue is completely believable.

  • Neil B on September 30, 2012 8:40 PM:

    As best I can tell, Warren simply said that stories of native ancestry ran around in her family so she checked off the box in trust of the stories. Sure, that doesn't prove she has the ancestry, but it doesn't mean it has to be false either, nor is it such a big deal whether she belonged or could belong, to the political entity "The Cherokee Nation" unless the box she checked specifically asked for that - and I bet it didn't since most such ethnic identity questionnaires don't delve into such technicalities (unless you are actually *applying for a scholarship* etc, am I right?) So it's no big deal and critics (not to get on this author, I mean right-media hacks) that say Warren "was lying" are wrong. No, that would mean that Warren had to know the stories were false. We don't even know if they are false, and she didn't have any reason to believe *that they were false*, it was just a matter of not having formal proof so the answer could be "maybe." Doh.

    "Fine minds make fine distinctions."

  • civarifsciz on December 09, 2012 3:30 AM:

    I'd need to check with you here. Which is not some thing I often do! I enjoy reading a post that can make men and women believe. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

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