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Fake Native American professor issues apology, but won’t resign her position

A “Pretendian” Native American UC Berkeley professor who late last year admitted she actually was white recently issued a formal apology: She “incorrectly identified as Native [her] whole life.”

“I have brought hurt, harm, and broken trust to the Native community at large, and to specific Native communities I have worked with and lived alongside, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” Elizabeth Hoover wrote.

Hoover (pictured) said early in her academic career she took criticisms of her Mohawk and Mi’kmaq (alleged) heritage as “petty jealousy” or “interference”; however, she now realizes she should have done “proper research for the correct documentation” to prove her ethnic background.

As penance, Hoover said she now will donate funds from her talks and book sales to “Native farm, food sovereignty, and educational programs,” commit to the “restorative justice process” at UC Berkeley and “will gear future research towards supporting people and communities with whom [she] have an authentic relationship and will accept spaces where communities ask [her] to step back.”

The Mercury News reports the one thing Hoover will not do is resign her position, despite over 360 individuals demanding she do so.

MORE: Fauxcahontas: White female scholars keep pretending to be Native American

From the story:

Hoover’s apology or talk of making amends has not silenced those who believe she should resign or be dismissed. Ataya Cesspooch, Sierra Edd and Breylan Martin, the three Native American doctoral students at UC Berkeley who launched the call for her resignation said Thursday that her apology is an attempt to garner “pity,” while failing to address her multiple instances of “misconduct” or to offer concrete plans for making amends, noting the tens of thousands of dollars in fellowships she won as she built her career around being Native American. In a statement, they also said she continues to blame her family for her failure to investigate her background much sooner.

Given Hoover’s professional research skills, it makes no sense that she waited so long to verify a Native identity, said Desi Small-Rodriguez, an assistant professor in UCLA’s Sociology Department and American Indian Studies Program and a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. Hoover said she initially dismissed inquiries into her identity as “petty jealousy.” Small-Rodriguez called Hoovers’s apology “gaslighting” and said: “An average person could get away with accepting family lore, but Hoover is PhD from an Ivy League Institution. It’s totally unacceptable.”

Columbia’s Audra Simpson, an anthropology professor of Mohawk descent, added that “it’s possible that Hoover took away jobs, fellowships or grants that could have gone to authentic people of color.”

Two years ago, UC Berkeley quoted Hoover in a press release which lauded diversity cluster hiring “as a way to address equity and justice.” The professor said clusters mean “you won’t be an island, because of the topic you teach and/or the demographic you represent.”

MORE: U. Wisconsin Native American-in-residence turns out to be white

IMAGE: Washington Post / Twitter screencap

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.