Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NEHGS: No Proof of Warren's Indian Heritage

05/16/2012 -- The Boston Herald, per reporter Hillary Chabot, is now reporting that the New England Historic Genealogical Society (N.E.H.G.S.) says they have concluded that there is simply "no proof" of Massachusetts Democrat and United States Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's long-time claim to Native American heritage.

Until yesterday, that organization was the only one that had preliminarily given any credence at all to her claims, largely based on the speculative claim that there either was, or may have been a reference to such a link in the marriage documentation of her great, great, great grandmother, identified as "O.C.Sarah Smith."  Proof of such a tenuous claim, would have formed the basis for Warren only being 1/32 Cherokee, but now N.E.H.G.S. has concluded that there is simply no documentation on which to base proof of even that thin connection.

When the actual marriage certificate was shown to contain no such reference at all, and genealogists thereupon further established that the certificate itself was the only possible extant documentation -- i.e., that records and officials confirmed that there simply were no "application" forms filled out for a marriage certificate back at the time -- that factually undercut any continuing basis for the Society's preliminary finding.  Finally,
the Society backpedaled yesterday, saying they haven’t been able to find primary documentation to back up that claim. Their comments came as the Herald reported yesterday that an Oklahoma county clerk said a marriage application proving Warren’s tribal roots does not exist.

"We have no proof that Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great-grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith either is or is not of Cherokee descent,” said Tom Champoux, a [NEHGS] society spokesman.
With this setback, Warren is now faced with lingering questions regarding the basis for her long-time claims of Cherokee lineage over the years, including having listed herself as being of Native American heritage with the American Association of Law Schools (A.A.L.S.), and having also been listed as a "minority" professor with a few highly prestigious institutions of higher learning, including the Harvard Law School, where she has taught most recently, and earlier with the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

The lack of any factual basis for her claims is an embarrassment for these institutions as well, and raises issues regarding what proof they may (or may not) have solicited or obtained from her at the time of her hiring at those institutions.

Politically, the Herald article strongly suggests that this issue will likely remain with her throughout the remainder of the campaign, and, further, that she no longer has any control of the narrative regarding the issue.

"It’s glued to her now. This is going to be with her throughout the campaign,” said Larry Sabato, who heads the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “I don’t know how it goes away when you have so many unanswered questions."

. . .

Another new reference to Warren’s minority status surfaced yesterday in a 1997 Fordham University article that cites her as a “woman of color.” The article quotes former Harvard Law School spokesman Michael Chmura, who was also quoted in the original Harvard Crimson article touting Warren’s purported tribal heritage.

A Warren spokeswoman called the article “nothing new.”

But Leonard Steinhorn, a political science professor at American University, said, "I think she’s lost this storyline in the media."

Though she has so far been seen as the "presumptive" Democratic Senatorial nominee in the fall race for the Massachusetts seat currently held by Republican Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren is not the only Democrat in the primary race for the nomination.

One other candidate, Marisa DeFranko, has also now filed her petitions.  The Democrat primary election for the seat in Massachusetts will be held on September 6th, thus leading one political commentator to ponder whether the Democrats might now be tempted to turn to this relatively unknown candidate.


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