Dartmouth College announced Thursday that Susan Taffe Reed, who attracted scorn and ridicule for claiming membership in an Indian tribe regarded by other Indians as bogus, will no longer serve as the director of the school’s Native American Program.
In a statement, the Ivy League school reported:
Susan Taffe Reed will no longer serve as the director of the Native American Program. Unfortunately, the distraction around her appointment prevents her from effectively serving in this role.
Taffe Reed hasn’t been fired, the school said, but simply reassigned elsewhere. The school hasn’t said whether Taffe Reed requested the change or if school administrators made the call instead.
When Taffe Reed’s appointment was announced last month, Dartmouth proudly noted her work as president of the “Eastern Delaware Nations” (EDN). But while that tribe name may sound legitimate, it turns out EDN is actually just a non-profit corporation, and it is not recognized as a legitimate tribe by the federal government, the state of Pennsylvania (where it is headquartered), or by most other Indian tribes.
Criticism (and mockery) of Taffe Reed escalated after a blog post on the website FakeIndians analyzed the genealogical records of Taffe Reed’s ancestors, claiming it showed them to be of purely European extraction with no Indian admixture. Taffe Reed has argued that the blog post isn’t entirely accurate but also hasn’t produced a detailed rebuttal to it.
The leadership of Dartmouth’s Native American Program is especially notable, as the school has one of the most prestigious and high-profile programs in the country. Dartmouth was originally founded to educate Indians, and the school today graduates them in much greater numbers than any other Ivy. As a result, it has a large body of Indian alumni, and many of them voiced intense criticism of Taffe Reed’s appointment, with one saying the nomination “slapped [us] in the face.” While the job is traditionally held by an Indian, many said they wouldn’t mind a non-Indian holding it, as long as they didn’t claim a non-existent heritage.
Dartmouth’s Indian students and alumni celebrated Taffe Reed’s un-appointment on their Facebook page, though some said they wished she would leave the college entirely rather than simply being slotted into a separate job.
Academics claiming dubious Indian ancestry is surprisingly common, and Taffe Reed’s case isn’t even the only one in the last few months. Over the summer, there was intense criticism of University of California, Riverside professor Andrea Smith, who enjoyed a reputation as a top Cherokee intellectual until several Indians pointed out that, in fact, she had no evidence of any Cherokee blood. Smith has thus far kept her job.
This report, by Katie Frates, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.