Campos, the author of that article, has quite a nice platform from which to trash his colleague. Let's guess which side of this issue he is on, and let's speculate at just how powerful the court of public opinion is.
The saddest aspect of Churchill's case is that, in regard to his identity, he might not be guilty of fraud in the narrowest legal sense. According to the News, Churchill has been claiming to be a Native American since his high school days in Illinois. It may well be that by this point he has genuinely convinced himself that he actually is an Indian.
Of course some people believe they're Napoleon. But that's not a good reason for giving them professorships in French history.
Paul Campos is a professor of law at the University of Colorado. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Unlike Highwater, who kept changing his story and was all over the board, Churchill has a consistent position, but in the world of blood quantem, it is very hard to prove or disprove. High school sounds like a good time to make the decision that you're going to explore a particular aspect of your ethnic heritage. Prior to that, can we expect him to have shown such resolve? (Few people know that I'm 1/4 Danish, but that doesn't mean I couldn't decide to learn a lot more about the Hansen branch of the family. . . ) Churchill has taken the activist, aggressive position that has ruffled a lot of feathers over the years. And now that the feathers are flying, why not have a law professor wade into the fray via a widely-read editorial. The line "might not be guilty of fraud in the narrowest legal sense" is a good working definition of "damning with faint praise." Along the lines of "when did you stop beating your wife." To answer "I didn't. . ." you won't get past those two words. Didn't you stop beating your wife? That you never beat your wife so never needed to quit is beside the point, isn't it? First words out of your mouth are all anyone will hear.
Chances are the law professor is one of those snobs who is insulted taht someone without a terminal degree is on the faculty. I've seen that one before, and the snobbery is hidden behind all sorts of petty acts that seem unrelated until you look at the bigger picture.
I'll sit down when I have time and read carefully through this thread then revisit some of my scholarly materials about Churchill. Maybe there's something useful to add. But right now, what this "discussion" needs is a referee with a whistle.
By the way--there are all sorts of ways to learn later on of Indian heritage that was suppressed by family members who were ashamed of the linkage. Many Cherokees who resisted "Removal" blended into the surrounding community, and simply never spoke of being Indian to their children. Yet one day you'll see one of those predominantly Indian family surnames pop up in the family tree and answers to nagging questions become clear. I was reading an article just yesterday about an African American doctor in the Dallas area who was a well-known activist. When I read that his mother's maiden name was "Linthicum," commonly found I think in Cherokee? areas, I realized that he was probably mixedblood Indian and African American. Maybe not, but it sends up a little geneological flag.
The question then arises--if you are Indian and didn't know it for a while, but you live a life following your family traditions, aren't you still "Indian?" And how many of your family's practices or traditions might stem from the long-forgotten culture? There's just too much grey area there for Dr. Campos to make any definitive statements, so of course, he damns with faint praise and makes his derogatory statements in such a way that he makes lots of unsavory suggestions without actually saying them so he can't be sued for libel.