Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Susan Taffe Reed
Dartmouth College 

Stop me if you've heard this before.

Woman hired into a top-level position for a job with heavy racial focus is let go after people protest whether said woman is, in fact, being truthful about her race.


On Thursday, Dartmouth announced that newly hired Native American Program Director Susan Taffe Reed, who claimed she was part Native American and European, would no longer be in that position after several Native American tribes and Dartmouth alumni questioned her ancestry and tribal affiliation, the Valley News reports.

According to the news site, Reed claimed she was president of the Eastern Delaware Nations and, the Wall Street Journal notes, that one of her roles at the Ivy League college was to have used her position to help Native American students adjust to college life.

On Sept. 11, Dartmouth announced Reed's new position. Tribal officials and Dartmouth alumni immediately began protesting and questioning Reed's qualifications, noting that Eastern Delaware Nations is a nonprofit group that acknowledges it isn't a tribe, and saying that Reed was misrepresenting herself as part American Indian.

"I personally have no problem with a non-Indian getting the job on her own merits," Keely Squirrel Denning, a Shawnee tribe member, told the Valley News. Denning researched Reed's origins and told the news site that her grandparents were part of the Eastern Delaware Nations but that they appear to be Irish immigrants.


Denning called Reed's misrepresentation a "slap in the face," the Valley News reports.

According to the Wall Street Journal, many Native American Dartmouth alumni consider the Eastern Delaware Nations to be a group of "pretendians," made up of many members who are not affiliated with any tribes.


"They basically just formed their own nation and have been playing this role-playing game ever since," Jacqueline Keeler, a Native American Dartmouth graduate, told the Journal.

Reed stood firm on her racial identity, telling the Journal that she is part Native American and that she never misrepresented herself, although the newspaper notes that she didn't answer when asked which tribe is her family. 


"My Native and non-Native family members raised me to know about my ancestry, including our family's oral history and traditions that have been passed down for generations," she said in an email to the Journal. "I have participated in Native American ceremonies and powwow dancing since I was a little girl."

On Thursday a college spokeswoman told the Valley News regarding Reed that "the distraction around her appointment prevents her from effectively serving in this role. It does not prevent her from contributing to Dartmouth in other ways, and we are currently exploring opportunities with her."

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