Professor Answers Charges of Faking Cherokee Status

July 13, 2015

Andrea Smith, a professor at the University of California at Riverside who has been a major figure in Native American studies, has responded to charges that she has falsely told people that she is a member of the Cherokee nation. As the accusations (some of which are many years old) have received new attention in recent weeks, Smith has said nothing. But on Thursday she published a blog post in which she said that she was not "enrolled" on the official list of Cherokee nation members, but she insisted that she has been correct in calling herself Cherokee. Many have said that Smith has never demonstrated Cherokee roots and that she should have stopped years ago telling people she was Native American.

In her blog post, Smith said: "I have always been, and will always be Cherokee. I have consistently identified myself based on what I knew to be true. My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for native communities. There have been innumerable false statements made about me in the media. But ultimately what is most concerning is that these social media attacks send a chilling message to all native peoples who are not enrolled, or who are otherwise marginalized, that they should not publicly work for justice for native peoples out of fear that they too may one day be attacked."

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