Susan Taffe Reed, far left, sang in the chorus for the opera The Purchase of Manhattan in 2014. Photo: Jesse Bruchac

Dartmouth claims key Native hire comes from tribal background

Susan Taffe Reed, the new director of the Native American Program at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire is part Native -- despite evidence to the contrary -- a university spokesperson said.

“Susan Taffe Reed is of Native and European heritage,” spokeswoman Diana Lawrence told The Valley News in a statement “She has never represented herself as a member of a federal- or state-recognized tribe."

The statement, though, did not specify Taffe's alleged Native heritage. She serves as president of the Eastern Delaware Nations, a group that lacks federal recognition and admits anyone who wants to join.

“Susan openly acknowledged that she is a person of mixed ancestry and identity, including Native ancestry,” professor N. Bruce Duthu, who himself is a member of a tribe that was denied federal recognition, told Valley News in a statement.

In his statement, Duthu made a general claim about the unreliability of records about Native people and their identities. However, he did not offer a specific explanation about Taffe's claims of tribal heritage.

Lawrence, the university spokesperson, also said that research into Taffe's heritage that was posted by FakeIndians was inaccurate. She did not elaborate either.

In a second post, FakeIndians notes that Taffe's grandfather's death certificate claimed he was "White/American Indian." However, his birth record describes him as "White."

Both of his parents are also recorded as "White," according to FakeIndians, which relied on primary documents for its research. And their parents -- all four of them -- were White immigrants from Ireland.

Keely Squirrel Denning conducted the research that was posted on FakeIndians. According to her documents, Taffe's grandfather appears to be the first person in her family to claim Native heritage. He was a member of the Eastern Delaware Nations.

It's possible Taffe could be claiming Native heritage from a different ancestor other than her deceased grandfather. However, she has refused to talk about her background since being hired by Dartmouth.

Get the Story:
Dartmouth Native American Program Director Under Fire (The Valley News 9/18)
Native Americans Blast Dartmouth for New Hire (The Daily Beast 9/19)

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Head of Native program at Dartmouth won't discuss heritage (9/17)

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