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By John Hinderaker | POWERLINE
Photo: Kelsey Asbille Chow who is not an Indian, but is half white and half Chinese and plays the part of an Indian in the TV series “Yellowstone.”
Who knew that Elizabeth Warren was part of a movement? Apparently she is one of a great number of people who try to advance their careers by pretending to be American Indians. We noted here a news report to the effect that close to 20 percent of white kids “identify” as Native American on their college applications–a strategy that apparently is often successful.
Now the New York Post reports on a list of some 200 people, prominent in academia, politics and the arts, who have falsely claimed to be part Indian. Real Indians, it seems, are outraged that others are trying to horn in on their privileged status.
A list of allegedly fake Native Americans has begun circulating in tribal and academic circles, accusing 195 people of falsely claiming an Indian identity for personal gain.
The “Alleged Pretendians List” is the creation of Jacqueline Keeler, a Native American writer and activist who has spent years busting fakers in politics and academia.
“Everyone on this list has made public claims through interviews, in books authored, documentaries, and even in Congressional testimony. They are also all monetizing their claims. These are not privately-held beliefs,” reads her introduction. “We will release the names and findings of all those who are found to have no relation to the American Indian tribe they claim in the United States.”
The list includes well-known imposters and claimants like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Johnny Depp, but also less well-known figures in media and the arts.
Many of the accused sit in prestigious academic perches. Dartmouth’s assistant undergraduate dean, Susan Taffe Reed, is named. In 2015 Reed was forced out as director of the school’s Native American Program over allegedly faking membership in the Eastern Delaware Nations.
The issue of Pretendians made headlines last month when Canada’s top indigenous health expert, Carrie Bourassa, was ousted after her claims of membership in the Métis nation were debunked. Researchers found her people actually originated from Eastern Europe and Russia.
I was interested in this list, which you can see here, in part because I have been laid up for several days with an appalling cold and have spent the time, inter alia, watching the first three seasons of Yellowstone. One of the principal characters in that series is a young woman named Monica who is married to one of the Dutton sons. Monica is an Indian, and the woman who plays her, Kelsey Asbille Chow, certainly looks like a Native American.
However, as Miss Chow’s last name suggests, she is not an Indian. She is half white and half Chinese, according to Wikipedia. Her Chinese-American father is a doctor, and she went to Columbia.
The Pretendians list suggests that Chow has falsely claimed to be Native American. But let’s put that aside for a moment and ask, why should that matter? She looks the part, and is very attractive, certainly what TV producers are looking for. She is, in my opinion, an excellent actress, and plays the part of Monica well.
So why should we care whether one of her grandparents was an Indian? What bearing does that have on her ability to play the part? Some might say that non-Native American actresses should not “steal” parts from actual Indians. But casting is a zero-sum game. Many one-quarter Indian actors and actresses are more than capable of playing white or Asian parts. Should they be barred from doing so on racial grounds?
As a society, we are at a crossroads. Are we going to be a racist country, obsessed with genetic qualifications, perhaps adopting the Democratic Party’s antebellum one-drop rule? Or will we continue down the path of individual merit and accomplishment that we have been on, although no doubt imperfectly, for more than a century?
Too, what do we make of the rush to claim the evidently privileged status of Native American? Why are there hundreds of “Pretendians,” falsely alleging they are Indians to advance their careers? If Native Americans are discriminated against and “marginalized,” whatever that means, why do so many people pretend to be Native Americans?
Pretty much everything that is said about race in the USA is a lie. The prevalence of “Pretendians” is one more data point indicating the sickness of our race preference-obsessed culture.
Author: Frances Rice