Opinion: Senate candidate tripped up by Indian heritage claims

"It happens in a lot of American families. My maternal great-grandfather was born on a Maine island in the 1880s, in the days when Penobscot Indians still rode birch-bark canoes from their inland reservation to the coast for their annual clambake. I always had the definite idea that he had Indian blood himself — maybe Penobscot, maybe Abenaki, maybe another New England tribe. In the photographs I have of him, he certainly looks the part, with a profile suited for an Indian Head penny.

My great-grandfather left an autobiography behind, though (that’s how I know about the canoes and the clambake), and I went back to it recently and couldn’t find even a hint of an Indian connection: just a typical old New England genealogy, mostly English families with some Irish woven in. This would have been immensely disappointing to my 10-year-old self, since I can remember telling friends in American history class, with an air of authority, that I was almost certainly one sixteenth Native American, or at the very least one thirty-second.

It seems that Elizabeth Warren may turn out to be similarly disappointed, after the New England Genealogical Society acknowledged last week that there’s no firm evidence of her great-great-grandmother being Cherokee."

Get the Story:
Ross Douthat: A Little Bit Indian (The New York Times 5/20)

Also Today:
Garance Franke-Ruta: Is Elizabeth Warren Native American or What? (The Atlantic 5/20)

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