A University of California-Berkeley professor has come under fire after she apologized for “incorrectly” identifying her “whole life” as Native American.
In a long rack On Monday, sociology professor Elizabeth Hoover confirmed that 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 white.”
She said she has never knowingly falsified her identity or attempted to mislead anyone, writing on her personal website, “I am human. It was not my intention to hurt or exploit.’
But now she faces calls from more than 300 students and professors to step down from her position at the school.
They accuse Hoover of being a “pretendian,” or a white person who falsely claims to be of Native descent to profit.
Elizabeth Hoover, a sociology professor at UC-Berkeley, revealed in a statement Monday that she is not actually Native American, as she had claimed her “whole life.”
In a lengthy statement on her website, Hoover apologized to the Indigenous community
Hoover has long claimed descent from the Mohawk and Mi’kmaq peoples of eastern Canada and the United States—even referencing that heritage in news reports and while researching her dissertation for Brown University.
She also used the identity to land prestigious jobs, grants and grants, publish books and newspapers and become a prominent voice in the “food sovereignty” movement for indigenous cultures, critics claim.
When Hoover first joined the UC Berkeley staff in 2020, she was heralded in the 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.
But in November, Hoover released a preliminary statement answering questions about her identity.
She said her family had told her she was descended from great-grandmothers who were Mohawk and Mi’kmaq, and that her mother often took her and her sisters to powwows to connect with their heritage.
Still, she said, she and others concluded they couldn’t verify any connection to the two tribes.
The discovery, Hoover wrote in that preliminary statement, left her, her parents and her sisters “shocked and confused about what this information means to us,” according to the Press Telegram.
In her new statement on Monday, Hoover went even further, writing, “I am a white person who has misidentified as a native all my life.”
She then went on to apologize for the “damage” she had caused by betraying the trust of colleagues, associates, students, peers, friends, and members of the Native American community.
“I negatively impacted people emotionally and culturally,” Hoover wrote. “For this pain I have caused, I am deeply sorry.”
Hoover added that she is working with “restorative justice facilitators to better understand how members of the UC Berkeley campus community have felt hurt and betrayed, and ways I can work to make amends in a meaningful way.”
Critics say Hoover is a ‘pretendian’ – or a white person who falsely claims to have indigenous ancestry to profit
Hoover, center, has long claimed descent from the Mohawk and Mi’kmaq peoples of eastern Canada and the United States
But many in the Native American community don’t believe her apology went far enough and are calling on her to resign from her post.
They say having Hoover as a Berkeley professor raises questions among Native American scholars about the school’s academic integrity and respect for Native identity.
“The waves of damage resulting from this are immense and difficult to capture,” tweeted Adrienne Keene, an assistant professor at Brown who authored the online forum Native Appropriations and who was once close friends with Hoover.
Mohawk scholar Audra Simpson, an anthropology professor at Columbia University, also argued that Hoover’s professional history shows that she “lacks the ethical and academic integrity required to be a professor or a social scientist.”
She said the controversy could damage Berkeley’s reputation in Indigenous circles, telling the Press-Telegram: “This is a matter of misconduct with far-reaching consequences.
“Whether she committed fraud intentionally or not, she committed some form of fraud (and) she profited from it,” said Simpson, explaining that it is possible that Hoover may have taken jobs, grants, or grants away from real Indigenous peoples.
Hoover said in her statement that she was not hired by Berkeley as part of an effort to attract faculty members with expertise in Native American issues, but was instead responding to an open vacancy for environmental and food justice scientists.
Still, she acknowledged that she had received “academic scholarships, opportunities, and material benefits that I might not have had had I not been seen as an Indigenous scholar.”
Desi Small-Rodriguez, an assistant professor in UCLA’s Department of Sociology and American Indian Studies and a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, called Hoover’s apology a “police officer” and a form of “gas lighting.”
She said it makes no sense that Hoover waited so long to investigate her family’s claims that they were Native American, given her professional investigative skills. Hoover said in her statement that she dismissed inquiries into her identity as “petty jealousy.”
And, Small-Rodriguez said, Hoover crossed a line when she misrepresented herself as Native American during her research projects, allowing her access to ceremonies and other “social spaces” reserved specifically for Native people.
“People invited me into these spaces with the understanding that I was an Indigenous person, and I deeply regret the pain I caused some by entering those spaces,” Hoover wrote in her apology.
But Small-Rodriguez says, “That alone is a violation of research ethics.”
Hoover, pictured left in 2017, is accused of using a Native identity to land prestigious jobs, grants and grants, publish books and newspapers, and become a prominent voice in “food sovereignty”
She said she never knowingly falsified her identity or tried to mislead anyone
Adrienne Keene, an assistant professor at Brown who authored the online forum Native Appropriations, and who was once close friends with Hoover, called her out on Twitter
Now more than 300 scholars and Native American activists have signed an online petition calling for Hoover’s resignation.
It also includes demands that she “stop cosplaying with native jewelry, fashion, regalia, or other performative mechanisms that attempt to confuse her audience and then silence questions of authenticity,” and that she “explain the pain she has caused with words, behavior changes, and money, as she has benefited both academically and financially by cosplaying this persona for years.”
In addition, the signatories are calling for Hoover to “repatriate any gifted cultural or sacred items given to her former character.”
And the petition calls for UC Berkeley to offer scholarships for students who worked with Hoover and “help students who had Hoover on their qualifying examination or dissertation boards find an alternate member.”
UC-Berkeley said it would not comment on staffing issues, but in a statement to the Press-Telegram, campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said the school “is aware of and supports ongoing efforts to achieve restorative justice.” in a way that recognizes and addresses the extent to which this case has caused damage and unrest among members of our community.”