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Native American groups allege Met Museum’s curator is ‘Pretendian’

Native American campaigners are elevating questions in regards to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first ever curator of Native American artwork — claiming that she doesn’t belong to a federally acknowledged tribe within the US, The Post has discovered.

Patricia Marroquin Norby was employed with nice fanfare in 2020, after what the museum mentioned was “a long and competitive search,” as its “inaugural Associate Curator of Native American Art” in its American Wing.

For years, Marroquin Norby, 53, described herself — together with in authorized filings — as “Apache,” “Eastern Apache” and “Nde” in addition to “Purepacha/Tarascan,” an indigenous group from the northwestern a part of Michoacan, Mexico.

A yr after her appointment, the New York Times described her as “the museum’s first Native American curator and its first curator of Native American art” in a glowing profile.

Patricia Marroquin Norby
Patricia Marroquin Norby claims that she of Mexican indigenous origin however has referred to as herself Apache, Eastern Apache and Nde prior to now. Thirteen/ PBS

And in 2022, Marroquin Norby told NPR, “First, I should say,” earlier than talking briefly in an obvious Native language, then saying in English, “I am Purepacha. I’m Purepacha descent.”

But after Native American researchers disputed her claims to any indigenous heritage, The Met advised The Post that she was Purepacha, a Mexican indigenous group. The museum declined to make Marroquin Norby obtainable for interview.

On Monday, Marroquin Norby mentioned in a social media submit that she has been focused by a gaggle of Native American girls who’re making an attempt to “cancel” her. She mentioned she is pleased with her “Purepacha and Nde (Mexican Apache) family roots from Mexico, northern Mexico and Texas. I am not going to hide my identity or family history in shame.”

A spokeswoman for The Met mentioned, “Patricia Marroquin Norby is of Purepacha descent and also descends from Indigenous communities in what is now Texas.”

The Purepacha are a Mexican native group, which is not one of many 574 Indian tribes acknowledged by the US Department of the Interior’s Indian Affairs division.

Exterior shot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met advised The Post that Patricia Marroquin Norby, reportedly its first Native American curator, is Purepacha, a Mexican indigenous group. Helayne Seidman

But even the curator’s declare to be Purepacha is questioned by Native campaigners towards so-called “pretendians” — individuals who falsely declare they’re tribal members.

The most infamous examples are actress Sacheen Littlefeather, who claimed she was Apache and Yaqui when she addressed the Oscars in 1973, studying a boycott assertion from Marlon Brando; and Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, who claimed to be Cree.

Campaigners say each have been white girls who lied for many years, with Littlefeather’s fraud solely rising after her loss of life.

“With all of the Native American scholars out there, we really wonder why the museum chose Patricia, who is definitely not Native American,” mentioned Kathy Griffin, a member of the Cherokee Nation who compiled a family tree of Marroquin Norby’s household that she shared with The Post.

Patricia Marroquin Norby
“With all of the Native American scholars out there, we really wonder why the museum chose Patricia, who is definitely not Native American,” Kathy Griffin, a member of the Cherokee Nation, mentioned of Marroquin Norby (above). Patricia Norby / X

The overview of Marroquin Norby’s ancestry compiled by Griffin reveals no proof that any of her dad and mom, grandparents or great-grandparents have been enrolled members of a acknowledged tribe.

“It’s genocide again of Native Americans,” Griffin mentioned. “Now [white people’s] descendants are colonizing us again by claiming to be us.”

Purepacha is not a federally acknowledged tribe within the US however has a diaspora neighborhood, a member of which advised The Post: “[Marroquin Norby] wants to be the only Indian in the room and that doesn’t serve the community.

“It’s the first time that someone claiming to be part of our community has behaved this way.”

Sacheen Littlefeather holds up a piece of paper in front of an Oscar statue.
Activist and actor Marie Louise Cruz, who was referred to as Sacheen Littlefeater, famously declined Marlon Brando’s Oscar for Best Actor in his efficiency in “The Godfather” in 1973. After her 2022 loss of life, Native American researchers — and her family members — revealed she was not of native heritage. AP

“With pretendians, we’ve noticed a lot of red flags,” mentioned Native American author and activist Jacqueline Keeler, who first uncovered Sacheen Littlefeather. “One of those is shifting of Native identities. You can see that with [Marroquin] Norby and her shifting claims.”

Lianna Costantino, a co-founder of the Tribal Alliance Against Frauds, which tracks pretendians, agreed. The non-profit added the genealogical research compiled by Griffin to their web site on Saturday.

“They [pretendians] constantly shift from one tribe to another and claim to be indigenous from Mexico which is a lot harder to prove,” Costantino advised The Post Friday. “She [Marroquin Norby’] has nothing to show that she has a connection to the Purepecha in Mexico.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie performs in front of a microphone with a guitar.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation revealed that Canadian people singer Buffy Sainte-Marie, who had mentioned she was Cree, doesn’t have indigenous ancestry. Getty Images
Buffy Sainte-Marie holds an Emmy Award.
Saint-Marie, who gained an Emmy Award for her Canadian present “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry it On” final yr, referred to as the accusations towards her heritage claims “traumatizing” and “unfair.” PETER FOLEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Marroquin Norby, 53, who grew up within the Chicago space, as soon as described herself as “an urban Indian” who started to proclaim her indigenous roots as an grownup.

In a 2006 article in Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s Leader-Telegram, she described being mocked in fifth grade when she spoke about her great-grandmother Maria Jesus Torres, who “healed people in the Purepecha Mexican Indian tradition.”

Public data present that Torres and her husband left Mexico within the Nineteen Thirties and settled in Chicago.

Family tree for Patricia Marroquin Norby.
A household tree of Patricia Marroquin Norby’s household was created by Kathy Griffin of the Cherokee Nation. According to the analysis, Marroquin Norby’s maternal nice grandparents got here from Michoacan in Mexico within the Nineteen Thirties and the curator doesn’t have ties to any Native American tribe. Kathy Griffin

Marroquin Norby married Nathan Norby, a veterinarian, in a Native American ceremony in Osseo, Wisconsin, in 2003, with the Leader-Telegram reporting that an elder carried out a “sage blessing” for the couple and there have been customs and friends from six tribes.

In 2010, Marroquin Norby was amongst a gaggle in Osseo who sued the varsity district to attempt to pressure the elimination of its “Chieftains” mascot, which depicted a Native American in a headdress.

In state authorized filings for the swimsuit, seen by The Post, Marroquin Norby is described as “an Osseo-Fairchild resident of Purepacha (Tarascan/Eastern Apache) descent.”

Patricia Marroquin Norby
Marroquin Norby mentioned in a social media submit this week that she has been focused by a gaggle of Native American girls who’re making an attempt to “cancel” her. Patricia Norby / X

In 2013, Marroquin Norby graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a PhD in American Studies for a thesis which analyzed how “European Americans have historically manipulated American Indian images to create a non-American Indian perspective.”

After receiving her PhD she grew to become director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies on the Newberry Library in Chicago, and a trustee of town’s Field Museum, “where she advised on repatriation cases,” in line with an online biography.

Before her historic appointment on the Met, Marroquin Norby was senior govt and assistant director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in decrease Manhattan for 10 months in 2019 and 2020.

“The Met really needs to educate themselves about American Indian sovereignty,” Costantino mentioned. “They are so obsessed with DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] that they are not doing their due diligence, and when they don’t do the work they are doing a disservice to the Native community, to people who have suffered erasure. They are just erasing them again.”

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