I don’t know, there might be an innocent explanation. Maybe they’re counting people whose ancestors rounded up Native Americans as “minorities” too?

Remember, according to Warren, she never told the schools that employed her that she was Native American. That was something she reserved for those independent faculty directories. And yet:

According to Penn’s 2005 “Minority Equity Report,” it too identified Warren, who taught there from 1987 to 1995, as a minority.

On page 16 of the report, the now-Massachusetts Senate candidate is listed as a winner of the school’s Lindback Award in 1994. Unlike other names listed, though, her name is italicized and bolded to indicate her status as a minority faculty member…

[A] Penn professor previously provided a statement saying that Warren did not receive any benefits based on her heritage.

“Her appointment was based on the excellence of her scholarship and teaching,” said Stephen Burbank, who was acting dean of Penn’s law school in 1995. “I do not know whether members of the faculty were even aware of her ancestry, but I am confident that it played not role whatsoever in her appointment.”

There is, potentially, a kinda sorta “innocent” explanation here. Could be that Penn, in preparing its 2005 report on minority hiring, simply went through those old faculty manuals and stumbled upon Warren’s name. She listed herself as a minority in those from 1986 to 1995, so if they pulled out the 1994 edition to see where their Lindback Award winner was listed that year, they would have come away thinking that she was indeed minority. But of course, if that’s what happened, it undercuts Warren’s claim that she never told her employers about her background. Evidently, she didn’t need to. They might have been consulting the manuals all along, including in their hiring decisions.

But wait, there’s more:

Meanwhile, the Globe has also obtained a portion of Warren’s 1973 application to Rutgers, where she attended law school. That document specifically asks: “Are you interested in applying for admission under the Program for Minority Group Students?” Warren answered “no.”

In addition, a newly unearthed University of Texas personnel document shows that Warren listed herself as “white” when she taught at the law school there from 1981 to 1991…

Warren’s employment document at the University of Texas allowed her to check multiple boxes specifying “the racial category or categories with which you most closely identify.” The options included “American Indian or Alaskan Native,” but she chose only white.

She told reporters initially that she knew she was Native American because it was part of her family lore. Apparently she did zip to try to confirm it with a genealogist before claiming minority status in a professional listing, but never mind that. The point is, apparently from a young age, she believed she was Native American. In which case, why the fluctuations in how she listed herself as an adult? She’s “white” in 1973 at Rutgers, still “white” in 1981 at U of T, then suddenly minority in 1986 for those professional directories, then suddenly white again in 1995 when she stopped listing herself that way. Good lord. She’s had more politically calculated flip-flops on this subject over a multi-decade timeline than Barack Obama’s had on gay marriage.

Update: Tom Maguire looks at the big picture:

We are constantly told that having a diverse faculty (or workforce, or student body) provides faculty and students with fresh perspectives and valuable role models. How that works when no one is aware of the role modeling opportunities on offer remains a mystery. Just who at Harvard is taking inspiration from the Mystery Native American lurking in the shadows there? Who at U Penn is drawing strength from the news that if Elizabeth Warren can overcome her minority status, whatever it was, so can they?

I take it her campaign’s going to claim that the Rutgers and Texas applications prove that she wasn’t using her heritage to gain any advantage. But if that’s so, why not? She supports affirmative action, presumably. If her minority status grants her some unique cultural perspective or has disadvantaged her somehow, why isn’t it a legit scholastic criterion in her eyes? And if it doesn’t/isn’t, why bother claiming that status in the first place?