A professor at the University of California-Berkeley has come under fire after she apologized for ‘incorrectly’ identifying as Native American her ‘whole life.’
In a lengthy statement on Monday, sociology professor Elizabeth Hoover confirmed she is not actually a member of the Mohawk and Mi’kmaq tribes as she had been told growing up in upstate New York, affirming: ‘I am a white person.’
She said she never knowingly falsified her identity or tried to deceive anyone, writing on her personal website: ‘I’m a human. I didn’t set out to hurt or exploit.’
But now she is facing calls from more than 300 students and professors to resign from her position at the school.
They are accusing Hoover of being a ‘pretendian,’ or a white person who falsely claims to have Indigenous ancestry in order to profit.
Hoover has long claimed she was descended from the Mohawk and Mi’kmaq peoples of eastern Canada and the United States — even referencing that heritage in news accounts and while researching her doctoral dissertation for Brown University.
She also used the identity to win prestigious jobs, grants and fellowships, to publish books and papers, and to become a prominent voice in the ‘food sovereignty’ movement for Native cultures, critics claim.
When Hoover first joined the staff at UC Berkeley in 2020, she was heralded in campus media as one of a small but growing number of Native American scholars at the school who could help make the campus a more welcoming place for learning and researching Native American history, culture and contemporary issues.
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I suspect that if she just sits tight, nothing more will come of this than it did for her predecessor.