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Elizabeth Warren Explains Native American Heritage Listing

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BRAINTREE, Mass. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday she listed herself as having Native American heritage in law school directories because she hoped to meet people with similar roots.

Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, said she never tried to use minority status to get teaching jobs and criticized the campaign of Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown for suggesting that may have been the case.

“I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am,” Warren said during a campaign appearance in Braintree, according to the Boston Herald.

The listing did not produce any such contacts, and she later stopped using it, Warren said.

Law school directories from the Association of American Law Schools from 1986 to 1995 put Warren on the association’s list of “minority law teachers” when she was teaching at the University of Texas and the University of Pennsylvania.

According to the directories, the list is made up of “those legal educators who stated they were members of a minority group.”

Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma, has said she’s proud of her family ties to Cherokee and Delaware tribes — a heritage she said she learned through stories passed down to her from older family members.

On Wednesday, she accused Brown’s campaign of using the Native American listing as a way of insinuating that she was not qualified for her job.

“The only one as I understand it who’s raising any question about whether or not I was qualified for my job is Scott Brown and I think I am qualified and frankly I’m a little shocked to hear anybody raise a question about whether or not I’m qualified to hold a job teaching,” she said.

Brown himself has not made such a claim, though his campaign manager has said the story raises questions about Warren’s credibility.

Asked about the controversy following a speech in Boston on Wednesday, Brown said of Warren: “I think she needs to answer the questions that are still lingering out there.”

The story first surfaced last week when the Herald found a 1996 article in Harvard’s student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, about student dissatisfaction about the number of women and minority professors on the Harvard Law faculty. In the story, Harvard Law spokesman Mike Chmura referred to Warren as Native American.

Warren said on Friday that she was unaware Harvard had promoted her as a minority professor and Charles Fried, the professor who recruited Warren to Harvard, said any suggestion that she got her job in part because of a claim of minority status was “totally stupid, ignorant, uninformed and simply wrong.”

A Massachusetts genealogist said he uncovered evidence that Warren’s great-great-great grandmother had listed herself as Cherokee in an 1894 document.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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