NPR: David Treuer and Mary Annette Pember talk Indian identity

"This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren continues to face criticism over undocumented claims she made that for several years she was Native American. Warren acknowledged that she told officials at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania that she was of Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage, but she insists that played no role in her hiring.

According to the census, almost five million Americans identify themselves as Native Americans. The Bureau of Indian Affairs put the number enrolled in federally registered tribes at just under two million.

There are lots of reasons for that discrepancy, but some of them include family legends, identity shopping and ethnic fraud, where someone adopts an Indian identity to qualify as a minority or because they think it's cool.

If you've seen this happen, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, You can also join the conversation on our website, at Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Later in the program, the Massachusetts teen in the fatal texting-while-driving incident will spend a year in prison. What will it take for you to stop using a cell phone while driving? Email us now, that address again is

But first proving you're Native American. David Treuer joins us from member station KNBJ in Bemidji, Minnesota. He's an Ojibwe Indian from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, the author of "Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life," and nice to have you back on the program."

Get the Story:
Proving Native American Ancestry Can Be Tricky (NPR 6/7)

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