Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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Berkeley Prof. Sorry for Being a ‘White Person Who Incorrectly Identified as Native’

'Whether intentional or not, she has committed a form of fraud [and] she has benefited enormously from doing so...'

(Headline USA) A University of California, Berkeley professor issued an apology this week for being a “white person who has incorrectly identified as Native my whole life.”

Professor Elizabeth Hoover, an expert on environmental health and food justice in Native American communities, said she recently found out that she was not Native American despite having claimed that as her ethnicity for decades.

Hoover lived this “identity based on family stories without seeking out a documented connection to these communities,” she wrote in an apology letter, according to Mercury News.

“Having my family claim Native identity does not mean Native nations claimed us,” she wrote. “By claiming an identity as a woman of Mohawk and Mi’kmaq descent without confirming it with communities of origin, and by not confirming kinship ties back to politically and culturally affiliated Indigenous peoples, I betrayed and hurt my students, collaborators, and friends.”

Hoover then shared a long list of commitments she hopes will “meaningfully make amends.”

One such promise is to “put away my dance regalia, ribbon skies, moccasins, and Native jewelry,” she said. “I’ve begun to give away some of these things to people who will wear them better.” 

As of right now, Hoover does not plan to resign from UC Berkeley, despite a call for her to do so from more than 360 people, including Native American scholars and activists, as well as current and former students from the school.

“This is a matter of misconduct with wide-reaching effects,” said Audra Simpson, a Columbia anthropology professor and Mohawk scholar. “Whether intentional or not, she has committed a form of fraud [and] she has benefited enormously from doing so.”

Adrienne Keene, an assistant professor in American studies at Brown University and former close friend and colleague of Hoover, agreed: “The waves of harm extending from this are immense and difficult to even capture,” she tweeted.

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