The majority of the University of Colorado committee investigating ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill recommended firing him for academic misconduct on June 13. Churchill is most famous for calling the victims of terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center “Little Eichmanns.”
The committee investigated seven separate allegations concerning Churchill’s academic misconduct: Misrepresentation of General Allotment Act of 1887 (A), Misrepresentation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (B), Captain John Smith and Smallpox in New England (C), Smallpox Epidemic at Fort Clark and Beyond (D), Plagiarism of a Pamphlet by the Dam the Dams Group (E), Plagiarism of Professor Rebecca Robbins (F) and Plagiarism of Professor Fay G. Cohen (G).
The committee found Churchill guilty on all accounts, except for the plagiarism of Professor Rebecca Robbins. In the report, Churchill says that he is the original author of the work published as that of Rebecca Robbins and that he often publishes written work under “pseudonyms,” which sometimes are the names of living people, as is so in this case. Though he managed to avoid a plagiarism accusation in this instance, his behavior qualifies as a form of academic misconduct because he failed “to comply with established standards regarding author names on publications.”
Such patterns of academic misconduct were found to be commonplace among Churchill’s work by the committee. In Allegation A, Professor John P. LaVelle from the University of New Mexico Law School alleged that Churchill misrepresented the contents of the General Allotment Act of 1887 (“Dawes Act”). The claims that Churchill made about the act were found “literally incorrect” and his labeling of “the General Allotment Act of 1887 as a federal ‘eugenics code’ falsely implies enforced legal racial separation, while the entire history of the [act] demonstrates that its point and purpose was to fully integrate and assimilate American Indians into non-Indian society, often against their will.” Even with the supporting evidence against Churchill’s false claims about the General Allotment Act of 1887, he remained steadfast and attempted to defend them to the committee, according to the May 9 report.
Churchill misrepresents another act in Allegation B, this time claiming that there is an Indian “blood quantum” requirement specified in the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. “Moreover, Churchill has again compounded this misrepresentation by citing his own writings as if they were independent third-party sources written by others,” the committee concluded in the report. “This misrepresentation was not scholarly error but serious research misconduct and part of a general pattern of such misconduct in support of his political views.”
Allegation C disproves Churchill’s claim that Europeans, namely John Smith, “intentionally introduced the smallpox virus to Native American tribes as part of a larger effort that [he] contends should be called ‘genocide.’” The committee found that “there is no clear evidence about the exact nature of the epidemic and nothing that points specifically to smallpox” or to John Smith.
Allegation D also concerns the deliberate spread of smallpox, but more specifically, that the U.S. Army spread the disease to Mandan Indians living near Fort Clark in 1837, using infected blankets taken from a military infirmary in St. Louis. Churchill repeatedly misrepresents his sources to support his false claims about the smallpox epidemic among the Mandan Indians and frequently provides no references for these claims.
Katherine Duncan is an intern with Accuracy in Academia.