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Monday, July 13, 2015

Is what UC, what you get?

In the wake of a scandal in the Bay Area about an NAACP official who claimed to be African American but apparently wasn't, a similar issue arose at UC-Riverside. A faculty member in Native American studies there who claimed to be a Cherokee/Native American has had her background questioned. Inside Higher Ed has carried the story: [Excerpt from latest article]

Andrea Smith, a professor at the University of California at Riverside who has been a major figure in Native American studies, has responded to charges that she has falsely told people that she is a member of the Cherokee nation. As the accusations (some of which are many years old) have received new attention in recent weeks, Smith has said nothing. But on Thursday she published a blog post in which she said that she was not "enrolled" on the official list of Cherokee nation members, but she insisted that she has been correct in calling herself Cherokee. Many have said that Smith has never demonstrated Cherokee roots and that she should have stopped years ago telling people she was Native American...

Full story at https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/07/13/professor-answers-charges-faking-cherokee-status  Earlier stories at https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/07/08/indigenous-female-scholars-issue-open-letter and https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/07/06/scholar-who-has-made-name-cherokee-accused-not-having-native-american-roots 

This case raises interesting issues. Does having a particular identity give you a leg up as an expert in studying that group? Do you have to have papers to prove your identity?
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