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Elizabeth Warren says she informed employers of 'native American heritage'

Elizabeth Warren, who is seeking to unseat Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, has clarified what she told Harvard and Penn about her native American heritage and when. 

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Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren greets people during an event at her campaigns headquarters in Somerville, Mass., Wednesday.

Steven Senne/AP

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Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, embroiled in controversy over whether she sought to advance her academic career by representing herself as a minority, has for the first time said she told two universities that she had native American heritage.

But Professor Warren said she provided the information to Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania after she was hired by those institutions. And she noted, as she has done previously, that people who played prominent roles recruiting her for law school teaching positions "have said unequivocally they were not aware of my heritage and that it played no role in my hiring."

Warren, a Democrat known for taking a public stand against big Wall Street banks in the wake of the financial crisis, is trying to unseat Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts.

Her latest comments about her claims to Cherokee heritage were made Wednesday night to The Boston Globe, which reported them in its Thursday edition.

Prior to Wednesday's statement, Warren had acknowledged only that she listed herself as a minority in a national directory of law school professors, during years when she was at Penn (starting in the 1980s) and Harvard (starting in the early 1990s).

Warren grew up in Oklahoma, where Cherokee ancestral ties are not uncommon. But she has provided no documentation to confirm her heritage.

"Growing up, my mother and my grandparents and my aunts and uncles often talked about our family’s Native American heritage," Warren said in the statement, which the Globe released online. "As a kid, I never thought to ask them for documentation – what kid would? – but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a part of who I am and part of my family heritage."

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