From the Daily Mall

Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is yet again in hot water after new allegations have surfaced that she plagiarized her 'Cherokee' recipes in the book Pow Wow Chow from the New York Times and other publications.

I'm skeptical that

  • Elizabeth Warren presented recipes as Cherokee
  • Led people to believe those recipes were "handed down from generation to generation"
  • These recipes were found elsewhere word-for-word (or in very much the same form)
  • 10
    Regardless of what you want to ignore, the claim is plagiarism and I'm skeptical. Jan 15 '20 at 2:01
  • 4
    @GEdgar I'm not a fan of holding politicians to a different standard than the rest of us. Will this allegation if true damage her career? Probably not, but just because information like this might well be ignored by those who've already come to an opinion on her one way or another doesn't mean that we should only focus on the "damaging" claims to be skeptical about.
    – PC Luddite
    Jan 15 '20 at 2:38
  • @T.Sar-ReinstateMonica I dare you to come to Houston and try to peddle a NYT recipe for BBQ sauce as Texan and sign your name to it. Jan 15 '20 at 14:33
  • The title should be edited to reflect that the cited claim does not claim that Warren published the book, but rather only that she plagiarized recipes in the book. Either that, or a notable claim needs to be added that claims she actually published the book.
    – reirab
    Jan 15 '20 at 17:58
  • @Evan Carroll: Texans have no effing idea how to make proper barbecue sauce. This is the proper way: atlasobscura.com/articles/…
    – jamesqf
    Jan 15 '20 at 20:02

The first and most significant error is the incorrect claim that Warren "published" the book, a claim which no one has made other than social media sources. It was actually the "Five Civilized Tribes Museum" that published it. The cookbook was edited by Warren's cousin, Jayne "Candy" Rowsey (1932-2002). Pow Wow Chow is still available today from the website of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum.

According to a 2012 Boston Herald article, Warren's campaign team cited Candy Rowsey's involvement with the museum as proof that she was really part Cherokee. The claim that the cookbook contains “recipes passed down through family members" can be sourced to a former museum volunteer quoted in a subsequent Herald article, as no direct quotation from the cookbook can be found.

Warren was indeed presented as Cherokee in the text of Pow Wow Chow. However, there is no text saying that this is Warren's own claim to membership in the Cherokee tribe. Conceivably the tribal affiliation could have been added by her cousin. This two-page spread shows that her cousin appended a tribal affiliation to every contributor.

enter image description here

On page 156, Candy Rowsey's name appears next to Warren's. On the page opposite is her brother-in-law, Paul Rowsey (1926-2001), who is remarkably also listed as Cherokee.

enter image description here

It is true that these recipes were found nearly word-for-word in earlier sources: in 2012, Breitbart observed that Warren's recipes are identical with earlier recipes found in newspapers. However, because relevant sections of the book have not been reproduced, it is unclear if Pow Wow Chow actually claims to be "handed down from generation to generation" or if this is simply a collection of recipes contributed by a group of Candy Rowsey's acquaintances. No one has produced a quotation from Warren claiming to have invented or inherited the recipes she contributed. There is no copyright on recipes so simply copying a recipe from a newspaper, without claiming it to be your own work, does not constitute plagiarism.

  • 134
    I disagree with the last sentence. Plagiarism consists in passing off the work of others as your own. It is irrelevant whether that work was copyrighted, or whether it could be. The concepts of plagiarism and copyright are completely orthogonal. Jan 15 '20 at 5:01
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 16 '20 at 14:19
  • Deleted more discussion on the differences between plagiarism and copyright. Take it to chat; it isn't helping answer this question.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 18 '20 at 2:19

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