University of Milwaukee professor accused of LYING about being Native American posts rambling apology admitting she is of Irish and French-Canadian descent
- Colleagues denounce $167,000-a-year professor of American Indian studies as a ‘con artist’ after she fails to find a single indigenous ancestor
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee launches investigation into Margaret Noodin but she keeps a job with the college teaching part-time
- She insists she did not lie and says her family told her she was related to American Indians
Former colleagues of a $167,000-a-year university professor of American Indian studies have said they feel betrayed after she admitted having no evidence of Native American ancestry.
Margaret Noodin, 58, was called a ‘con artist’ after leaving her job as director of the Electa Quinney Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee last year amid growing suspicion about her claims to an indigenous identity.
The linguist posted a ‘positionality statement’ insisting her family told her she had Native American relatives when she was a child.
But fellow academic Doug Kiel of Wisconsin’s Oneida Nation hauled her submissions from an exhibition of indigenous art in Chicago when he read it and denounced her as a fraud.
‘It was really quite rambling babble about, ‘I know a person and I was in a ceremony’,’ he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, ‘And it’s like, no, no, no, no, this is not how this works at all.’
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has launched an investigation into Margaret Noodin but she retains a job with the college teaching part-time
Electa Quinney Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where Noodin taught is a leading center for the study of Native American language and culture
Fellow academic Doug Kiel of Wisconsin’s Oneida Nation hauled her submissions from an exhibition of indigenous art in Chicago and denounced her as a fraud
Noodin was working as an Ojibwe language instructor in Michigan when she was appointed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to teach at the institute in 2014.
Last year, she complained to the university authorities that anonymous bloggers had ‘been trying for nearly a year to get me fired’ as questions about her self-styled identity swirled.
‘The fact that I haven’t really been misrepresenting myself seems to set off even more fury,’ she boasted.
But the university was placated by her online statement where she name checked the many native Americans she had worked alongside.
Dean Scott Gronert apologized to her for ‘having to deal with these challenges to your identity, which you have so openly addressed in your recent posts and throughout your time at UWM’.
She claimed she had been the ‘target of numerous inquiries and online attacks’ but admitted her maiden name was Margaret Ann O’Donnell, and that efforts to find any actual native American relatives had drawn a blank.
‘My understanding of my own race and ethnicity has evolved over time and there are many ancestors I look forward to meeting when I leave this world,’ she wrote.
‘I have been part of sugar bush, traditional gardening, wiigwaas harvest, berry processing and wild ricing.
‘I am a former bow-hunter and have caught and cleaned many fish and muskrats,’ she continued.
‘I have dedicated my time on Earth to learning and teaching the language of my ancestors.’
But she admitted most of those ancestors appeared to be Irish or French.
‘When I wrote for the Circle native newspaper in Minneapolis in the 1980s I met friends who encouraged me to research my grandmother Margaret Hill at Grand Portage and Mille Lacs.
‘Although some of my cousins have also done research we do not have any records that would lead to enrollment status.’
Noodin has secured a new post in Minnesota as director of a tribal nation’s Head Start program
University of Michigan instructor Howard Kimewon said Noodin was a ‘con artist’ who took advantage of him and exploited his knowledge of Ojibwe to further her own career
The admission came as a bombshell to former students and colleagues, convinced they had been duped.
‘I felt betrayed,’ said Antonio Doxtator, an Oneida Nation citizen.
‘I never would have taken her classes if I’d known she wasn’t Native.’
University of Michigan instructor Howard Kimewon said Noodin was a ‘con artist’ who took advantage of him and exploited his knowledge of Ojibwe to further her own career.
‘She did enough damage to me,’ he told the Sentinal.
‘I can’t forget it.’
Noonan told her readers that ‘race-shifting, fraud and indigenous identity are important topics being examined closely today.’
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has begun an investigation into Noodin but she retains a job with the college teaching part-timer online. She did leave her $167,000-a-year role with the university amid the scandal.
Meanwhile she has secured a new post in Minnesota as director of a tribal nation’s Head Start program.
‘Throughout my life I have tried to continually increase my knowledge of my own family and the communities where I am welcome and included,’ she said in a statement.
‘During my life I have listened to relatives, friends and elders who asked that I use my gifts and creativity to honor all of my ancestors without denial or erasure of oral family histories.’
But Assistant Professor Kiel told her she had lost her credibility.
‘No matter how you slice it, you have made very big, inexcusable mistakes that legitimately call into question whether you can be trusted to work with Native people and communities,’ he wrote to her in an email.
‘You have years of amends to start making.’
Raquel Saraswati’s (left) identity was first questioned in 2015, when a cultural commentator referred to her as ‘the ‘Raquel Dolezal’ in the Muslim community.’ In 2019 Kay LeClaire (right) of Sussex, Wisconsin, resigned from the indigenous artists’ collective she had founded when it was revealed she was a white college student passing off Native American art bought on Etsy as her own
She is not the only person to come under fire in recent years for allegations of deceiving others about their background.
Earlier this year, the chief inclusion officer at a Philadelphia-based Quaker group was ‘outed’ by her mother, who said she had no idea why her daughter claimed to be of Latin, South Asian and Arab descent.
Colleagues of Raquel Saraswati at the American Friends Service Committee said the felt ‘conned’ after mother Carol Perone revealed her daughter was ‘white as the driven snow’.
In 2019 Kay LeClaire of Sussex, Wisconsin, resigned from the indigenous artists’ collective she had founded when it was revealed she was a white college student passing off Native American art bought on Etsy as her own.
Perhaps the most famous ‘race-faker’ of all is Rachel Dolezal who spent ten years posing as a black woman before she was outed in 2015.
Dolezal, 45, was a chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Spokane, Washington, and also a teacher of Africana studies at East Washington University.
INFAMOUS ‘RACE FAKERS’ IN THE US
Rachel Dolezal – former college professor and NAACP activist known for identifying as a black woman despite having been born to white parents. She was ‘outed’ in 2015.
Jessica Krug – a white professor of African American studies at George Washington University confessed in a Medium post earlier in September 2020 that she had been faking being black for years, and was in fact a Jewish woman from Kansas.
Satchuel Cole – born Jennifer Lynn Benton, the Indiana-based activist and member of Black Lives Matter admitted in a Facebook post in September 2020 to having ‘taken up space as a Black person while knowing I am white’.
CV Vitolo-Haddad – she resigned from her teaching job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison after admitting in September 2020 that she pretended on multiple occasions to be black or Latino. She is actually Southern Italian and Sicilian.
Hilaria Baldwin – the wife of actor Alec Baldwin was born in Boston to American parents, but changed her name from Hilary in 2009. She has claimed to be Spanish, because her parents live there and she spent time there as a child. She was ‘outed’ in December 2020.
Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan – in January 2021 the prominent human rights lawyer admitted that she was not a Latina, but was born to white parents in Georgia.
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