UNITED STATES NEWS

Berkeley professor apologizes for false Indigenous identity

May 5, 2023, 2:59 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An anthropology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, whose identity as Native American had been questioned for years apologized this week for falsely identifying as Indigenous, saying she is “a white person” who lived an identity based on family lore.

Elizabeth Hoover, associate professor of environmental science, policy and management, said in an apology posted Monday on her website that she claimed an identity as a woman of Mohawk and Mi’kmaq descent but never confirmed that identity with those communities or researched her ancestry until recently.

“I caused harm,” Hoover wrote. “I hurt Native people who have been my friends, colleagues, students, and family, both directly through fractured trust and through activating historical harms. This hurt has also interrupted student and faculty life and careers. I acknowledge that I could have prevented all of this hurt by investigating and confirming my family stories sooner. For this, I am deeply sorry.”

Hoover’s alleged Indigenous roots came into question in 2021 after her name appeared on an “Alleged Pretendian List.” The list compiled by Jacqueline Keeler, a Native American writer and activist, includes more than 200 names of people Keeler says are falsely claiming Native heritage.

Hoover first addressed doubts about her ethnic identity last year when she said in an October post on her website that she had conducted genealogical research and found “no records of tribal citizenship for any of my family members in the tribal databases that were accessed.”

Her statement caused an uproar, and some of her former students authored a letter in November demanding her resignation. The letter was signed by hundreds of students and scholars from UC Berkeley and other universities along with members of Native American communities. It also called for her to apologize, stop identifying as Indigenous and acknowledge she had caused harm, among other demands.

“As scholars embedded in the kinship networks of our communities, we find Hoover’s repeated attempts to differentiate herself from settlers with similar stories and her claims of having lived experience as an Indigenous person by dancing at powwows absolutely appalling,” the letter reads.

Janet Gilmore, a UC Berkeley spokesperson, said in a statement she couldn’t comment on whether Hoover faces disciplinary action, saying discussing it would violate “personnel matters and/or violate privacy rights, both of which are protected by law.”

“However, we are aware of and support ongoing efforts to achieve restorative justice in a way that acknowledges and addresses the extent to which this matter has caused harm and upset among members of our community,” Gilmore added.

Hoover is the latest person to apologize for falsely claiming a racial or ethnic identity.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren angered many Native Americans during her presidential campaign in 2018 when she used the results of a DNA test to try and rebut the ridicule of then-President Donald Trump, who had derisively referred to her as “fake Pocahontas.”

Despite the DNA results, which showed some evidence of a Native American in Warren’s lineage, probably six to 10 generations ago, Warren is not a member of any tribe, and DNA tests are not typically used as evidence to determine tribal citizenship.

Warren later offered a public apology at a forum on Native American issues, saying she was “sorry for the harm I have caused.”

In 2015, Rachel Dolezal was fired as head of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP and was kicked off a police ombudsman commission after her parent told local media their daughter was born white but was presenting herself as Black. She also lost her job teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University in nearby Cheney.

Hoover said her identity was challenged after she began her first assistant professor job. She began teaching at UC Berkeley in the Fall of 2020.

“At the time, I interpreted inquiries into the validity of my Native identity as petty jealousy or people just looking to interfere in my life,” she wrote.

Hoover said that she grew up in rural upstate New York thinking she was someone of mixed Mohawk, Mi’kmaq, French, English, Irish and German descent, and attending food summits and powwows. Her mother shared stories about her grandmother being a Mohawk woman who married an abusive French-Canadian man and who committed suicide, leaving her children behind to be raised by someone else.

She said she would no longer identify as Indigenous but would continue to help with food sovereignty and environmental justice movements in Native communities that ask her for her support.

In her apology issued Monday, Hoover acknowledged she benefited from programs and funding that were geared toward Native scholars and said she is committed to engaging in the restorative justice process taking place on campus, “as well as supporting restorative justice processes in other circles I have been involved with, where my participation is invited.”

United States News

leap day...

Associated Press

How did leap day begin and why? A look by the numbers

How did leap year begin and why? A look at some of the numbers, history and lore behind the (not quite) every four-year phenom.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

AT&T will give $5 to customers hit by cellphone network outage

DALLAS (AP) — AT&T says it will give affected customers $5 each to compensate for last week’s cellphone network outage that left many without service for hours. The Dallas-based company said on its website that customers will get the $5 credit on their account within two billing cycles. The credit does not apply to AT&T […]

2 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2024, in Washington...

Associated Press

Biden is summoning congressional leaders to the White House to talk Ukraine and government funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will convene the top four congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday to press lawmakers on passing an emergency aid package for Ukraine and Israel, as well as averting a looming government shutdown next month, according to a White House official. The top four leaders include House Speaker […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Warm weather brings a taste of spring to central and western United States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A warm front swept springlike weather across a large swath of the country Sunday in what is usually one of the coldest months of the year, sending people out of their homes to enjoy the rare winter respite but also bringing increased wildfire danger. In Omaha, Nebraska, the temperature Sunday broke […]

3 hours ago

A portion of UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)...

Tom Kuebel

Cyber attack on health insurance provider could prevent Arizonans from getting prescriptions

A cyber attack against Change Healthcare has prevented some patients from being able to fill prescriptions at local pharmacies.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Off to Michigan, Haley is staying in the race despite Trump’s easy primary win in South Carolina

TROY, Mich. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley says it’s not “the end of our story” despite Donald Trump’s easy primary victory in South Carolina, her home state where the onetime governor had long suggested her competitiveness with the former president would show. Defying calls from South Carolina Republicans to exit the race, Haley […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Berkeley professor apologizes for false Indigenous identity