A University of California, Berkeley professor of anthropology whose Native American identity had been questioned for years apologized this week for falsely identifying as Indigenous, claiming she is “a white person” who lived an identity based on family lore.

In a letter of apology published on her website on Monday, Elizabeth Hoover, an associate professor of environmental science, policy, and management, admitted that although she had claimed to be of Mohawk and Mi’kmaq ancestry, she had never checked with those communities or done any ancestry research before.

“I caused harm,” Hoover wrote. “I hurt Native people who have been my friends, colleagues, students, and family, both directly through fractured trust and through activating historical harms. This hurt has also interrupted student and faculty life and careers.

I acknowledge that I could have prevented all of this hurt by investigating and confirming my family stories sooner. For this, I am deeply sorry.”

Hoover’s alleged Indigenous roots came into question in 2021 after her name appeared on an “Alleged Pretendian List.” The list compiled by Jacqueline Keeler, a Native American writer and activist, includes more than 200 names of people Keeler says are falsely claiming Native heritage.

Hoover first addressed doubts about her ethnic identity last year when she said in an October post on her website that she had conducted genealogical research and found “no records of tribal citizenship for any of my family members in the tribal databases that were accessed.”