Who is Andrea Smith? California professor falsely claiming to be Cherokee not fired in 14 years
Native American Studies scholar Andrea Smith, who is a professor at the University of California Riverside, has been reportedly making false claims about her race for over a decade. The well-known researcher who hails from Long Beach, California, had told her friends that she had Native American ancestry. She even claimed that her mother and grandmother were Oklahoma Cherokee and her father was Ojibwe. Now her extended family members have revealed to New York Times that she is not Cherokee or Native American.
Her claims first came under the scanner in 2007 when Cherokee Nation officials started investigating her background. The following year, Cherokee academic Steve Russell wrote an article titled "When does ethnic fraud matter?", which questioned Smith's claims. After Smith was appointed as an assistant professor at the University of California, she stopped identifying as a Cherokee in official bios but proclaimed the identity in lectures and interviews.
Who is Andrea Smith?
According to her bio on the UCR website, Andrea Smith is a noted professor of Ethnic Studies who is currently on sabbatical. Throughout her academic career, Smith has focused on Native American studies, and even started the Women of All Red Nations forum's Chicago chapter with her sister Justine in the 1990s. In an essay written in 1991, she called out White feminists 'opting' to become Native Americans.
A recent report by the New York Times probed into Smith's background and sought confirmation about her ancestry from her relatives. Shockingly, it was found by the reporter that Smith's ancestry on her mother's side is White, even going as far back as her great-great-grandparents. Margaret Jane Wilkinson, a relative of Andrea Smith's mother Helen, said she has never identified as Native American.
A relative on her father Donald's side also refuted her claims of her father being Ojibwe. "Yeah, we heard about that and we just kind of shook our heads," they said, adding that her father is a White man with British ancestry. Andrea Smith's cousin Barbara Smith stated that their family is mostly Scandinavian and rejected the claim of being Native American.
In 2015, Smith faced heavy criticism when doubts arose about her claims. While she consistently maintained that she has 'always been, and will always be Cherokee', Cherokee genealogist David Cornsilk failed to find any evidence of Cherokee bloodlines in her heritage. "Wannabes like Andrea use the myths of Cherokees hiding in the hills, passing for White or being saved by righteous Whites, to perpetuate their lies. They are the product of two centuries of non-Cherokees trying to lay claim to our lands and treasury, if not by force, then by subterfuge," he later wrote.
In the following years, many have challenged Smith's identity claim, but she continued to maintain her false narrative and did not come forward with the truth, shares Daily Mail. "As far as I can tell, nothing has changed in the evidence of her ancestry that would lead me to believe she is or even might be of Cherokee descent," David Cornsilk inferred.
Andrea Smith is yet to issue any public statement in the wake of the controversy around her ancestry.