Column: Indian ancestry claims common throughout Oklahoma

"In 1997, the media told Madeleine Albright something about herself that she swears she didn’t know: Her parents were Jews who converted to Catholicism. They lost relatives in the Holocaust. People wondered how Albright could not have known.

Today, Elizabeth Warren is being given a similar unsolicited genealogy service, as journalists report that she may not be as Native American as she thought. People are wondering how she could not have known, and whether it was right for her to have listed herself in a directory of minority law professors back in 1986.

The problem with these heritage treasure hunts is that they presuppose that the question of racial identity is always absolute: is she or isn’t she?

Real life is more complex. In 1990, only about 60 percent of the 1.9 million Americans who declared themselves to be Native American on the census were actually enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, according to University of Kansas sociologist Joane Nagel. "

Get the Story:
Farah Stockman: Elizabeth Warren’s Wetumka roots (The Boston Globe 6/5)

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