Surprise: Genealogist Who "Confirmed" Warren's 1/32 Cherokee Heritage Admits Error

Posted: May 15, 2012 11:12 AM

It's the surreal political scandal that keeps on giving.  The "genealogist" who offered Elizabeth Warren's only strand of proof that she has any Native American blood in her lineage turns out to be an amateur who now admits the "evidence" she thought she'd collected doesn't actually exist:

Lynda Smith, the amateur genealogist who unknowingly found herself at the root of the false “Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee” meme introduced to the media by “noted” genealogist Chris Child of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, acknowledged in an email to me this past Saturday, May 12, that her statement in a March 2006 family newsletter upon which Mr. Child based his claim of Ms. Warren’s Cherokee ancestry was made with no supporting documentation. It was, in fact, an honest mistake that Ms. Smith now acknowledges is entirely without foundation.

Ms. Smith had been quoted in a statement in a March 2006 newsletter that William J. Crawford had listed his mother, Ms. Warren’s great-great-great grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith, as a Cherokee on an 1894 Oklahoma Territory marriage license application (emphasis added).  In addition, she acknowledged that the same statement in her posting at a rootsweb page about William J. Crawford was made based on no documentation.

So Warren began classifying herself as a Native American as she began her professional career (to "make friends" or whatever), only to rescind the claim nine years later -- after she'd been hired at two Ivy League schools that listed her as a "minority," and after she'd earned(?) tenure at Harvard.  There was -- and continues to be -- no evidence to back up her heritage claims, yet nobody asked questions along the way.  Aren't lawyers supposed to be intellectually curious and thorough people?  And how is this not some form of academic fraud? For her part, Warren remains in total denial mode, professing pride in the ancestry that she can't even remotely prove:


Scott Brown's campaign, which has been treading lightly on this whole matter, is starting to apply more pressure:

Sen. Scott Brown’s campaign today blasted Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren’s “integrity and truthfulness,” and again called on her to release documentation showing whether she listed her Native American heritage on personnel records. “The question here is not about Elizabeth Warren’s credentials so much as it is about Elizabeth Warren’s integrity and truthfulness and willingness to be transparent,” said Brown’s campaign director Jim Barnett. “Why is she listing herself as a native American with exactly zero evidence?

Silly Jim Barnett.  She's already answered that question.  She listed herself as a Native American because she wanted to socialize with her people, even though she made no effort to actually do so when given the chance.  Doesn't that explanation suffice?  Heh.  This isn't over.

UPDATE - The Boston Globe has corrected the record to reflect the new, um, lack of evidence:

Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in the May 1 Metro section and the accompanying headline incorrectly described the 1894 document that was purported to list Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great grandmother as a Cherokee. The document, alluded to in a family newsletter found by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, was an application for a marriage license, not the license itself. Neither the society nor the Globe has seen the primary document, whose existence has not been proven.

UPDATE II:  "Pow Pow Chow"?