Culture Wars/Current Controversies

UC Berkeley scholar apologizes for wrongly claiming to be Native American her ‘whole life’

A California professor who claimed she was Native American for her entire life has revealed she is white, apologizing for breaking the trust of the Native communities she lived alongside.

Elizabeth Hoover, an associate professor in the environmental science and policy management department at UC Berkeley, said she “incorrectly identified” herself based on “incomplete information,” according to a statement posted to her personal website on Monday.

“In uncritically living an identity based on family stories without seeking out a documented connection to these communities, I caused harm,” Hoover said.

Hoover, who has published books and articles about Native American food sovereignty and other issues, said she never had proper documentation to confirm or dispute her claims of being Native American.

“Growing up I did not question who I was told I was, or how I identified,” Hoover said. “But as an adult, as an academic, I should have done my due diligence to confirm that my ancestors were who I was told they were.”

Hoover’s Twitter account, which hasn’t been tweeted from since 2020, features multiple Native American protests the professor was a part of and the many food summits she attended.

Identifying as Native American, she revealed she had access to resources she wouldn’t have if she only identified as a white person.

“Before taking part in programs or funding opportunities that were identity-related or geared towards under-represented people I should have ensured that I was claimed in return by the communities I was claiming,” Hoover added.


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