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2004 DNA Test Confirms That Ward Churchill Has No Indian Ancestry

Alex Constantine - February 9, 2014

Compilation by Alex Constantine

"Churchill's original 1978 application to the [University of Colorado] for a position as a lecturer in Native American studies included a completed federal affirmative action form, on which he claimed 'American Indian' ethnicity. ... A 1990 application by Churchill for the position of associate professor of American Indian Studies, prior to his receiving tenure, also shows that Churchill claimed 'American Indian' status." -- Rocky Mountain News, February 11, 2005

Ward Churchill's 1980 Resume in which he asserts he is "Creek/Cherokee."

Wikipedia: "In 2003, Churchill stated, 'I am myself of Muscogee and Creek descent on my father's side, Cherokee on my mother's, and am an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.' In 1992, Churchill wrote elsewhere that he is one-eighth Creek and one-sixteenth Cherokee. In 1993, Churchill told the Colorado Daily that 'he was one-sixteenth Creek and Cherokee.' Churchill told the Denver Post in February 2005 that he is three-sixteenths Cherokee."

"[Churchill] said that he is less than one-quarter Indian." -- Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 23, 2005

Denver Post"Churchill claims proof he's Indian"

"Ward Churchill [Creek-Cherokee], in Spiritual Hucksterism: The Rise of the Plastic Medicine, which came out in the early '90s, looks at the phenomenon of non-Indian marketeers re-making themselves into 'Medicine men' ..." -- Gary Hobson, "The Rise of the White Shaman"

From: "Shadows of Doubt," by Charlie Brennan, Kevin Flynn, Laura Frank, Berny Morson and Kevin Vaughan, Rocky Mountain News, June 4, 2005.

University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill fabricated historical facts, published the work of others as his own and repeatedly made false claims about two federal Indian laws, a Rocky Mountain News investigation has found.

The two-month News investigation, carried out at the same time Churchill and his work are being carefully examined by the university, also unearthed fresh genealogical information that casts new doubts on the professor's long-held assertion that he is of American Indian ancestry. 


He has repeatedly claimed to have American Indian ancestry, but an extensive examination of genealogical records that traced branches of both sides of Churchill's family to pre-Revolutionary War times turned up no solid evidence of a single Indian ancestor. In addition, the News found that DNA tests taken last year by two brothers prove that the father of Joshua Tyner — Joshua Tyner is the ancestor Churchill most often has cited for his Indian lineage — was not Indian.


In speeches Churchill has given this year, he has introduced himself this way: "I bring you greetings from the Elders of the Keetoowah band of Cherokee, my mother's people."

At times, he has suggested that he is 3/16ths Indian. That would be the equivalent of three of his 16 great-great grandparents having been 100 percent American Indian.

But from all indications in an extensive genealogical study by the News, there is no evidence of a single Indian ancestor in Churchill's long family history in America. 



From "The Tiresome Case of Ward Churchill":

Churchill grew up "white." That fact is never in dispute. His Indianness is a costume he created after his academic career began. His own family does not claim to "be" Indian. Their Indian claim is that universal claim so many Indians have been weary of for generations: an obscure ancestor who might have been part something or other. In this case, the identified ancestor is one Jacob Tyner, who lived nearly 200 hundred years ago. And the catch is, an enthusiastic family genealogist finally arranged the ultimate blood quanta verification, a DNA test, which demonstrated incontrovertibly that Tyner was not Indian after all. ...

No one, except a few American Indians, is asking the obvious question. How is Churchill Indian? Since he rejects the "blood quanta" definition as a bit of white racism invented to propagate genocide (this argument appears in a number of his books), surely he must mean something else when he says, "I am Indian." So what does he mean?

All he can offer is a bizarre "adoption" by the Keetoowah Cherokee. The Keetoowah Cherokee themselves have insisted repeatedly was merely honorary. They've also pointed out that his honorary membership was bestowed in return for promises that Churchill never kept. There is a certain controversy about the credentialing of Churchill's membership, but since the genealogical record provides no Indian ancestors, Cherokee or not, his claims that the tribe examined and approved his evidence to the contrary aren't very compelling.

Is he Indian because he joined AIM? Because he teaches Indian studies? There are any number of non-Indians who were present from the inception of AIM, most of them farily clear about whether that makes them "Indian." As for the academic position, since Churchill secured his job as a teacher of Indian studies by convincing CU that he was "Indian," that argument is a bit circular. And a bit embarrassing to CU, which gave Churchill preferential treatment because he was supposedly Indian, and now is stuck with the consequences of having pretended he was a qualified academic scholar.

Ward Churchill Ancestor Tree


Rocky Mountain News:

Are Ward Churchill's claims of American Indian ancestry valid?

An extensive genealogical search by the Rocky Mountain News identified 142 direct forebears of Ward Churchill and turned up no evidence of a single Indian ancestor among them — but did find a strong family legend of Indian blood.

The RMN Investigation of Churchill's "Scholarship" claims:

At issue - Did Ward Churchill falsely accuse the U.S. Army of using smallpox as a weapon of genocide against American Indians?
Our findings - His claim isn't supported by the sources he has cited. 

At issue - Did Churchill commit plagiarism by publishing the work of others as his own?
Our findings - An essay he "prepared" for a book was actually taken from a Canadian scholar. 
At issue - Did Churchill mischaracterize two important pieces of federal Indian law?
Our findings - His contentions about the Dawes Act of 1887 and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 are incorrect. 
At issue - Did Churchill misrepresent himself as having American Indian ancestry?
Our findings - His assertions that he is descended from Cherokee and Creek ancestors aren't supported by extensive genealogical records. 

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