Native, First Nations scholars say fake Indians prevalent in higher education

Across North America, academics have allegedly manufactured indigenous identity for personal, professional and financial gain.

In June 2021, an anonymous report began circulating in Canadian academic circles. It listed six faculty and staff members at Queen’s College in Kingston, Ontario.

“Queen’s College is currently overrun with white Canadians making false claims to Indigenous — especially Algonquin — identity,” it read. “We are confident that our thorough research has focused on six of the most prominent and harmful cases.”

The college rejected the allegations, prompting a written protest signed by more than 100 Indigenous scholars, condemning “white faculty claiming Indigeneity on the basis of family lore or one Indigenous ancestor from hundreds of years ago … claiming both trauma and healing that never belonged to them as they enact what scholars and advocates recognize as the final … stage of settler colonization: ‘settler self-indigenization.'”

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