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New Churchill Fraud Uncovered
Recently Found Evidence Suggests Ward Churchill Appropriated Another Veteran's Vietnam Experience

PirateBallerina is in possession of evidence that shows Ward Churchill may have appropriated the military experience of someone else and claimed it as his own. During a 1993 interview, Churchill gave supposed recollections of his actions and thoughts from his time in Vietnam that our evidence shows were in fact stolen from a quote by an anonymous soldier in an essay published a year earlier by a different author.

Here is the relevant portion of the original interview with Ward Churchill conducted by Jodi Rave in 1993 (a text version of the same interview can be found here). The underlined text in the interview below is Rave's questions; the plain text is Churchill's answers:

What is then, one of the most difficult moments or situation?

Waking up in the morning in what was called Indian Country in 1968 and finding out I was a member of the 7th Calvary (sic). Not literally, there was a 7th Calvary (sic).

Waking up?

In the morning in what they called Indian Country, this is what hostile territory is called in Viet Nam, yaa know, I figured I was a member of the Calvary (sic) and not the Indians.

Ooh. Ok.

That experience kind of changed my life.

In which way?

I decided to get on the right side, which isn't with the Calvary (sic), it wasn't with the United States. And just about everything I've done since then was drawn from that experience and all kinds of things have added on. But everything has been very, I can make sense of it, [i]t's been very consistent in that way.

Then, I'm always engaged, I never stop, I'm never unplugged.

[emphasis ours]

This tale seems highly unlikely, since military records indicate Churchill was trained as a truck driver and projectionist in the Army in 1966-68, and there is no evidence that during his 11-month stay in Vietnam he saw battle at all.

But if Churchill did not have these experiences himself, where did he get the story he recounts? PirateBallerina has learned that Churchill lifted the tale of bravery and awakening in Vietnam from an anonymous account by a Native American veteran that was published a year earlier, in 1992. The following quote appears in M. Annette Jaimes' 1992 book The State of Native America, in a chapter contributed by University of Arizona Professor Tom Holm. During the 1970's and 80s, Holm collected Vietnam recollections from Native American veterans, and published various papers and books chapters based on these recollections. Here is the exact passage from Holm's chapter (pp. 362):
As the Creek-Cherokee veteran quoted earlier put it: "I went into the army and to Vietnam because Iíd seen the same John Wayne movies as everybody else and thought I was doing an honorable thing, that war was the ĎIndian Wayí. And, of course, the government was saying at the time that we had this treaty-the SEATO treaty-to uphold. So I went... But when I got to Vietnam, I found that my job was to run missions into what everybody called "Indian country." Thatís what they called enemy territory... I woke up one morning fairly early in my tour and realized that instead of being a warrior like Crazy Horse, I was a scout used by the army to track him down. I was on the wrong side of everything I wanted to believe I was about... And then I found out the SEATO treaty never even required the United States to do what it was doing in Southeast Asia. It was all a total lie. Besides, by then Iíd figured out that even if it did, it didnít matter. Why was I fighting to uphold a U.S. treaty commitment half-way around the world when the United States was violating its treaty commitments to my own people and about 3001. other Indian nations?... I was fighting the wrong people, pure and simple, and Iíve never gotten over it." [emphasis ours] [See this footnote for an important update to this story. --editor]

We know for sure that Ward Churchill saw this quote, for three reasons:
One, Ward Churchill was himself a contributor to the same book, and he surely obtained a copy at the time of its publication;
Two, The book's editor, Annette Jaimes was Churchill's wife at the time, and they worked on numerous projects together before, during and after their marriage; and
Three, Tom Holm has confirmed in private correspondence with PB that Churchill was in fact instrumental in getting Holm's chapter into the book, and had read it even before publication.

So there is little doubt that, at least a year before the Rave interview (and given publishing lead-times, probably closer to two years), Churchill had seen and was familiar with the quote given by the anonymous veteran.

A point-by-point comparison between the original quote and Churchill's later interview with Rave shows that he is almost certainly simply trying to repeat the same quote but got it a bit jumbled as he tried to remember it. But many specific details are the same:

Rave Interview: "[...]Waking up in the morning in what was called Indian Country[...]"
Holm Excerpt: "[...]run missions into what everybody called "Indian country." Thatís what they called enemy territory... I woke up one morning[...]"

Rave Interview: "[...]I figured I was a member of the Calvary (sic) and not the Indians.[...]"
Holm Excerpt: "[...]and realized that instead of being a warrior like Crazy Horse, I was a scout used by the army to track him down.[...]"

Rave Interview: "[...]I decided to get on the right side, which isn't with the Calvary (sic), it wasn't with the United States.[...]"
Holm Excerpt: "[...]I was fighting the wrong people, pure and simple, and Iíve never gotten over it."[...]"

Adding to this strange "coincidence" is the fact that three years after the Rave interview, in 1996, Tom Holm published Strong Hearts, Wounded Souls, Native American Veterans of the Vietnam War, a much larger collection of his interviews with Indian veterans (including the "Creek/Cherokee veteran"), and that Ward Churchill reviewed the book the following year (1997) in Z Magazine. In Churchill's review, he makes the bizarre blunder of citing and quoting from the exact same anonymous veteran's quote - perhaps temporarily forgetting that he had himself appropriated that veteran's identity as his own in an earlier interview.

There's only one possible way that Churchill could attempt to explain away the identity theft and fraud represented by this evidence, and that is for him to claim that he himself was in fact the anonymous veteran who had given the original quote to Tom Holm.

But if Churchill were the "anonymous" writer in Holm's chapter of The State of Native America (and later, Strong Hearts), then he was lying about "running missions into 'Indian country' since his military records indicate he was trained as a truck driver and projectionist (hardly primary skills for someone "running missions into 'Indian country'"). One can only assume that since he's lied about his heritage, his art, his employment, and his military service, he'd have no qualms about lying in an anonymous correspondence with Holm. (Incidentally, the fact that Churchill later quoted the same veteran in his 1997 book review and failed to note that he was in fact that veteran and was quoting himself strongly suggests that Churchill was not that anonymous soldier; it seems unlikely that, given Churchill's oft-demonstrated love for the theatrical, he would have been able to resist the dramatic revelation: "I know what this young man felt, for I was that young man, and I wrote those words.")

On the other hand, if he is not the quoted veteran, then Churchill has clearly stolen the experience and memories of the anonymous soldier to enhance his own back-story.

So, is Churchill padding his military history with a reminiscence he lifted from someone else? Or is he engaging in a bit of self-referential whimsy that is itself based on a lie he told a fellow author under cover of anonymity?

In either case, Churchill has shown his utter inability to tell the unvarnished truth.
Like a black pearl, once his accreted layers of lies and fraud is chipped away, what is left?

One more piece of business: We challenge Ward Churchill to come forward and either confirm that he was the "anonymous soldier" or admit that he appropriated the soldier's story.

[this article was prepared by jwpaine and zombie]

1. In a 1995 interview with WBAI radio, Churchill reprised his story: "Well in 1969, after I came out of the army, I was a draftee and sent to Vietnam. I came back from that a little bit irritated of the posture of my government. I'm also an American Indian and I was sent to Southeast Asia to uphold a treaty which did not require that I be there. I considered it a fact before I even left there that while I was over there doing that, the United States was in the process of standing in complete violation of 371 odd treaties that were on record with my people or related peoples right here in North America. If we're going to be busy enforcing treaties, it ought to be home, not over there." Note Churchill's reference to "371 odd treaties" which corresponds to the anonymous soldier's "[...]violating its treaty commitments to my own people and about 300 other Indian nations[...]"

2. We have located a copy of The State of Native America, and further study shows that the "Creek/Cherokee veteran" quoted is also quoted earlier in the article (pp. 353):

"They kept running me on point during the day, and putting me out on listening posts at night. The company I was with, 4th Division, you know, it was all draftees who didn't have a clue what to do if we got hit. So, I knew I was going to die the minute we made serious contact [with enemy forces]. I'd be out there all by myself, and there'd be nobody to back me up. So I volunteered to run LRRP missions. At least then I knew the people around me knew what they were doin'. Besides, in the LRRPs our objective was to avoid contact, not seek it out. It was scary business, but all things considered I figured my best shot at living through Vietnam was to be a LRRP. Crazy, ain't it?"

As noted in our article, Churchill has asserted that he was an LRRP. While not proof positive that Churchill appropriated the Creek/Cherokee veteran's story, this does seem to reduce the probability of a third explanation some have offered for the uncanny similarities between Churchill's story and the anonymous Creek/Cherokee's, namely: coincidence of experience. On the other hand, the case is now stronger that Churchill himself supplied the "Creek/Cherokee veteran" quotes--but that would seem to entail some scholarly chicanery on Holm's part, as well.

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