Individual Indigenous Identity Theft

In October 2022, Jean Teillet published the report, Indigenous Identity Fraud, for the University of Saskatchewan.

Discussing her research, she wrote:

Who are these people?

In the academy and government, they are mostly white women. In the hunting and fishing realm, they are mostly white men. … What these claims have in common is that they are entirely disconnected from any living Indigenous people.

Why do they do it?

Indigenous impersonation is not an accident. People do it to get something they want – to stop Indigenous people from closing a land claim, to access hunting and fishing rights, or to gain access to jobs. And the payoff is well worth it.

Imposters in the academy gain six-figure jobs, prestige, grants and tenure in exchange for a few lies. This kind of impersonation can only be carried out by those with immense privilege. It takes a person with enough knowledge of the gaps in the system to exploit them.

It is also another colonial act. If colonialism has not eradicated Indigenous people by starvation, residential schools, the reserve system, taking their lands and languages, scooping their children, and doing everything to assimilate Indigenous peoples, then the final act is to become them. It’s a perverse kind of reverse assimilation.

Indigenous Identity Fraud

A Report for the University of Saskatchewan

October 17, 2022 • Jean Teillet

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