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Elizabeth Warren Says She Told Schools Of Native American Heritage

Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren.
Steven Senne
Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren.

Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who is in a tight Senate race in Massachusetts against Republican incumbent Scott Brown, acknowledged for the first time that she told the law schools at Harvard and University of Pennsylvania of her Native American heritage.

"As I have confirmed before, I let people know about my Native American heritage in a national directory of law school personnel," Warren said in a statement obtained by the Boston Globe. "At some point after I was hired by them, I also provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I'm proud of it and I have been open about it."

Last month, The Boston Herald broke the news that Warren was counted as a minority during some of her tenure as a law professor. As the Boston Herald reports today, Warren had previously said "she was not aware Harvard Law was listing her as Native American."

The Warren campaign has claimed that Warren is 1/32nd Cherokee, though the Herald reported that The New England Historical Genealogical Society could not back up that claim with documentation.

In her statement, today, Warren admits that she learned of her heritage from family stories.

"Growing up, my mother and my grandparents and my aunts and uncles often talked about our family's Native American heritage," she said. "As a kid, I never thought to ask them for documentation — what kid would? — but that doesn't change the fact that it is a part of who I am and part of my family heritage."

Warren also added that her heritage did not afford her preferential treatment.

"The people involved in recruiting and hiring me for my teaching jobs, including Charles Fried — solicitor-general under Ronald Reagan who has publicly said he voted for Scott Brown in 2010 — have said unequivocally they were not aware of my heritage and that it played no role in my hiring," she said. "Public documents that reporters have examined also show I did not benefit from my heritage when applying to college or law school."

As It's All Politics reported, this has been a front-burner issue in the race.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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