A drum group at the University of Oklahoma. Photo: OU Native American Studies
Education | National

Native hire at university in Oklahoma won't discuss Native background

Note: The FakeIndians blog is not owned by Keely Denning. She serves as a media contact for the blog.

A new professor at the University of Oklahoma's Native American Studies Department won't respond to questions about her alleged Native heritage.

Gina Stuart-Richard claims to be Choctaw but is not enrolled in any of the three federally-recognized Choctaw tribes. In fact, one of her key ancestors was unable to prove her heritage despite asking to be listed as Mississippi Choctaw by the Dawes Commission in 1902, according to documemts posted on the FakeIndians blog.

FakeIndians, whose research is based on original documents, instead found that Stuart-Richard descends from White individuals. But she told OU Daily that she won't be correcting the blog's “false information.”

“As an assistant professor of Native American studies, I teach my students about the unfortunate reality that there are three groups that are asked to show proof of their heritage: show dogs, racehorses and American Indians,” Stuart-Richard said in a statement to OU Daily. “In this case, I don’t believe that my personal family history has any place on an anonymous blog, and I will not be providing them with that information.”

Keely Squirrel Denning, who is a citizen of the Shawnee Tribe, serves as a media contact for FakeIndians but the blog itself is maintained by an individual and other other contributors. The blog previously posted extensive research into a hire at the Native American Program at Dartmouth College whose Native heritage was unsubstantiated.

Stuart-Richard, who previously worked in Montana and tried to land a job in Arizona, is scheduled to start teaching at OU in the fall, OU Daily reported.

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OU students, faculty face issues of race, identity after university makes new hire (OU Daily 7/5)