Important Note: Today (11-3-2005) we received an email from Ward Churchill saying some of our dates and other info contained in this "History" were incorrect. We have asked him for the correct information, and will post it when it is received. Our data was taken from a variety of sources, all of which we felt were trustworthy, but we welcome the opportunity to correct any factual errors.
Update: Ward Churchill has called into question the veracity of a number of our sources, as well as many of the dates. In the interest of fairness, we are removing this history from our blog until we can verify our sources and facts. In the meantime, please refer to our Chronology, which features much of the same information, and which provides links to the sources we used so that the reader may determine for himself whether to believe the information.
Update (11-5-2005): We have found only one legitimate error (repeated once) in our "Personal History" of Churchill, and so we have reposted it with the following deletions: two instances of an allegation that Churchill worked for the South Dakota Highway Patrol, which we are unable to verify outside the AIM sources we linked to. We also removed a repetitive mini-chronology that, in hindsight, added nothing to the history.
Ward Leroy Churchill was born October 2, 1947 in Illinois. He attended high school (this link to the Peoria Journal Star article no longer works, nor does a search of the PJStar archives reveal any mention of Ward Churchill--lucky for us MSN cached a copy, and we've preserved it here); for a time as a teen he appears to have taken the surname Debo, which The Denver Post asserts was his stepfather's surname; his only other association with the name "Debo" seems to be Angie Debo, one of Churchill's fellow authors published by AK Press) in Elmwood, Illinois where he graduated in 1965. Churchill has two half-brothers and one half-sister.
About a year after graduating high school, Churchill was drafted into the Army (1966-1968) and served (take your pick) in the motor pool, as a public information specialist, or was a multi-decorated member of airborne-recon. He's also claimed to have gone to paratrooper school, and to have been a LRRP (long-range reconnaissance patrol--basically hunter-killer units that tracked North Vietnamese targets deep into enemy territory). The motor pool version of his military service is the only one supported by military records.
Churchill earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Sangamon State University in Illinois (you can get an idea of what sort of institution Sangamon was by reading this essay purportedly by two of its teachers).
His work history is sketchy but interesting: he worked for the Rapid City Police Department as an educational consultant, and he worked briefly for Soldier of Fortune magazine (which he claims he "infiltrated" and apparently wrote an article about it (mentioned in footnote 9) for the Covert Action Information Bulletin; we have it here). Somehow he also managed to find time to train members of the Weather Underground in bomb-making and weapons handling, but he seems to have lost interest in the radical group when three Weather Underground members (Churchill's students?) accidentally blew themselves up in New York.
Update (12-17-2007): On its "Phonies" page, The POW Network claims (but doesn't provide documentation) that "DoD shows an E4 CHURCHILL, WARD L. MOS: 64B which was Heavy Vehicle Driver. 574th Trans Co while at Ft Riley and then the only unit he was in in Nam was 670th Trans Co, as a Hvy Trk Dvr."
He applied for and got a tenured associate professorship at the University of Colorado, Boulder, despite his lack of a doctorate. Listing himself as an American Indian, he prevailed over 38 other qualified applicants (including eleven other Indians—it's of mild interest that while there were 39 qualified applicants in all, and Indians represented less than half of the applicants, the only applicants interviewed for this position were three of the Indians. It's also of mild interest that while Churchill's hire date on the "Faculty Position Authorization Form" is 8-20-90, his hire date on the "Affirmative Action & Services Data Collection Form for Applicant Flow" is August 19, 1991—we prefer to see this as a simple typographical error rather than an indication of paperwork manufactured after the fact). He later received an honorary doctorate from Alfred University after serving there as a visiting professor in American Indian Studies.
We'd be pleased to provide a link to Churchill's curriculum vita, but we haven't found one on the internet--not on his CU webpages, not anywhere. If you find it, let us know.
Update (12-14-2007): Churchill's latest CV, courtesy the faceless drones over at wardchurchill.net.
Churchill has been married (actual and/or "common law") at least four times: Dora-Lee Larson, Marie Annette Jaimes (with whom Churchill allegedly attacked Carole Standing Elk, a grandmother and board member of the National American Indian Movement and Director of California AIM, resulting in arm and face lacerations and a broken wrist for Mrs. Standing Elk; Churchill allegedly took the opportunity to spit in her face), Leah Renae Kelly, a Canadian Ojibwe 23 years his junior (see Churchill's own account of his relationship with Kelly--for which the Ojibway Tribe officially denounced Churchill for "serious false allegations and insinuations[...] against Leah Kelly"), and Natsu Taylor Saito (a fellow professor in CU's Ethnic Studies department who has since resigned; here's her CV in pdf). He appears to have fathered no children; he presently has one step-daughter, Akilah Jenga (Saito's child from a previous marriage).
Here's a link to the 1994 News from Indian Country article covering the altercation between Jaimes, Churchill, and Standing Elk: Tribunal press conference ends with altercation
It’s a matter of court documents that he would have testified on Mumia Abu Jamal’s behalf had the judge not prohibited it.
KHOW Radio (registration required) in Denver obtained some interesting documents today (02-10-2005) pertaining to Churchill's employment at CU (our thanks to milehighretro for the tip):
His 1980 resume, which includes some interesting coursework
Affirmative Action Data Collection Form (showing 11 Indians applied, 2 were interviewed, 1 (presumably Churchill) hired
Faculty Position Authorization Form (putting Churchill on tenure track)
Colorado Affirmative Action Information Form, where Churchill lists highest educational level as 18
KHOW now (02-11-2005) has a portion of Churchill's service record scanned in.
Although newspaper accounts of Churchill's past cannot be trusted (nor can any others that do not reference original records), here's an interesting Denver Post take (02-13-2005):
"Churchill was born to Jack LeRoy Churchill and Maralyn Lucretia Allen in Urbana, Ill., in 1947 and named after his grandfather. His mother and father were divorced when he was 1 1/2, at a time when divorce was highly stigmatized.
"He felt that stigma, according to one of his high school friends, buddying up with someone who also came from a split home. He was raised by his mother and stepfather along with a number of stepbrothers and stepsisters.
"He was known as "Wardo" in high school, where he struck a clean-cut pose as a student-athlete and letterman at Elmwood Community High School in Elmwood, Ill., a town of 2,100 people 25 miles west of Peoria, where he had lived since he was a small boy. He also was known as Ward Debo for a time in high school, taking his stepfather's name. He graduated in 1965 in a class of 55 students."
Our own research has been unsuccessful in discovering any link to Indian blood in Churchill's lineage. This of course does not mean no link exists, only that we have yet to find that link. Other researchers have noted that, for his part, Churchill refuses to cooperate in any genealogical research, likening it to "pedigreeing a dog."