Met Curator Facing Allegations

Patricia Marroquin Norby, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first Native American curator, is facing serious allegations from indigenous campaigners questioning her claimed heritage. Norby, who was celebrated upon her hiring in 2020 for her “Apache” roots, is now under scrutiny, with Native American groups alleging her background is fabricated.

According to a report by The New York Post, critics vehemently assert that Norby is not truly Native American. “She is definitely not Native American,” one critic claimed. Despite these accusations, The Met stands by Norby’s claims, stating she descends from the “Purepecha peoples,” a tribe from Mexico and parts of Texas, although not among the 574 federally recognized Native American tribes in the U.S.

Norby responded to the allegations on social media, accusing a group of Native American women of attempting to “cancel” her. She defended her heritage, asserting pride in her “Purepecha and Nde family roots from Mexico, northern Mexico, and Texas.” She declared, “I am not going to hide my identity or family history in shame.”

In her role and numerous public statements, Norby has consistently identified herself as of Purepecha descent. The Met has reiterated this, with a spokesperson affirming her heritage and descent from Indigenous communities in Texas. However, campaigners like Kathy Griffin, a Cherokee Nation member who researched Norby’s genealogy, contest this.

Griffin stated, “With all of the Native American scholars out there, we really wonder why the museum chose Patricia, who is definitely not Native American.” Griffin found no evidence of Norby’s ancestors being enrolled in any officially designated tribe.

Critics argue that Norby’s claims are a form of cultural appropriation. Griffin went as far as to say, “It’s genocide again of Native Americans. Now (white people’s) descendants are colonizing us again by claiming to be us.”

Another member of the Purepecha tribe accused Norby of wanting to monopolize indigenous representation, saying, “It’s the first time that someone claiming to be part of our community has behaved this way.”

Jacqueline Keeler, a Native American activist and writer, labeled Norby a “pretendian”—someone falsely claiming indigenous roots. “With pretendians, we’ve noticed a lot of red flags,” Keeler said. “One of those is shifting of Native identities. You can see that with [Marroquin] Norby and her shifting claims.”

The controversy raises significant questions about cultural identity and authenticity, particularly in roles meant to represent and advocate for marginalized communities. The situation also highlights the complexities and sensitivities involved in verifying and respecting indigenous heritage.

As this story unfolds, it underscores the importance of rigorous vetting and the potential ramifications of identity claims within influential institutions like The Met.


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