Friday, May 20, 2005

Ward Churchill Update: Tribe Repudiates Churchill's Claim

CNN is reporting that University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill has yet again been repudiated by the Native American Tribe to which he has claimed to have 1/16th blood ties:

In a statement on its web site, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians said it gave Ward Churchill an "honorary associate membership" because he promised to write a tribal history.

Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies who could lose his job over allegations that he lied about his ancestry and plagiarized others' work, said Wednesday the tribe's statements are false.

Churchill touched off a firestorm when he wrote an essay comparing some of the World Trade Center victims to Adolf Eichmann, one of the Nazis who orchestrated the Holocaust. CU leaders said he couldn't be fired over the statements because of First Amendment protections, but they ordered a faculty panel to review the allegations of plagiarism and that he falsely claimed to be an Indian to give his research more credibility.

Besides insisting on his Indian heritage, Churchill has denied plagiarism.

The Keetoowah statement, first reported by the Rocky Mountain News, said the tribe "has no association with Churchill in any capacity whatsoever" and called his comments about the September 11 victims offensive.

Churchill's essay called some of the Trade Center victims "little Eichmanns" in an apparent reference to their work on behalf of a U.S. government he contends is an oppressive economic empire.

I went over and had a look at the web site referenced by the CNN article. Regarding Churchill's claim of Indian ancestry, the message from the Keetoowah Band is mixed:

Ward Churchill received an “Associate Membership” from the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (UKB) council in May, 1994. He was not eligible for tribal membership due to the fact that he does not possess a “Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood” (CDIB) which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Interior / Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Because Mr. Churchill had genealogical information regarding his alleged ancestry, and his willingness to assist the UKB in promoting the tribe and its causes, he was awarded an ‘Associate Membership’ as an honor. However, Mr. Churchill may possess eligibility status for Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, since he claims 1/16 Cherokee.

The site goes on to explain that Churchill does not qualify for a tribal vote nor any tribal benefit. Further, these associate memberships were only issued during the term of Chief John Ross. These "honorary memberships" were only given between 1991 and 1994.

See the American Indian Movement's (AIM) statement regarding Churchill here, and former Chief John Ross's comments about Churchill's so-called tribal membership
right here.

More Commentary about Churchill
here, here, here, and especially here.

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