Indian Heritage in Doubt; Cherokees Claim No Link to Professor

Article excerpt

Byline: Valerie Richardson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

DENVER - University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who has ignited a national outcry with his essay comparing September 11 victims to Nazis, stands accused of fabricating claims about his American-Indian heritage.

Mr. Churchill, former chairman of the Ethnic Studies Department at the Boulder university, long has identified himself as a Cherokee Indian, saying at various times that he has one-sixteenth or three-sixteenths Cherokee blood.

But Cherokee Nation officials say that is something Mr. Churchill never has been able to prove.

"He's not a member of the Cherokee Nation and he's not eligible for membership," said Mike Miller, a spokesman for the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Okla. "You have to have proof of Cherokee lineage, and he's never been able to do that."

What's more, he said, Mr. Churchill has besmirched the reputation of authentic Cherokees with his essay calling those who died in the Twin Towers attack "little Eichmanns," a reference to Nazi official Adolf Eichmann.

"It's particularly upsetting to Cherokee citizens because one of the people killed at the Pentagon was a Cherokee," Mr. Miller said. "The fact that a guy who claims to be a Cherokee has said these things about 9/11 is a double slap in the face to Cherokee citizens. He's not a Cherokee and he doesn't speak for Cherokee citizens."

The university's board of regents is conducting a 30-day investigation into Mr. Churchill's writings and scholarship amid calls for his dismissal. …