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Elizabeth Warren admits identifying herself as Native American to Harvard

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Elizabeth Warren (Steven Senne/AP)

Elizabeth Warren revealed for the first time late Wednesday night that she identified herself as Native American to Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania when she taught at both schools.

"At some point after I was hired by them, I ... provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard," Warren said in a statement to the Boston Globe, the newspaper reported. "My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I'm proud of it and I have been open about it."

Warren, who is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, had previously admitted to listing herself as a minority in a legal directory in the '80s and '90s, due to a Cherokee heritage that her family claims. But Warren had not previously acknowledged ever identifying herself as a Native American to the two universities at which she was hired to teach.

[Related: Reporter tests Warren's 'Cherokee' recipes]

Warren's admission on Wednesday was prompted by the Globe, which had obtained federal statistics that indicated the university listed a Native American female professor for the "1992-93 school year, the first year Warren worked at Harvard, as a visiting professor," the newspaper reported.

Warren has been struggling for weeks to steer the narrative of her campaign away from questions about her heritage. But her Republican opponent, Sen. Scott Brown, his supporters and news outlets continue to focus on Warren's background and on how she has identified herself in her professional life.

[Related: Cherokees to Warren - 'We don't claim you']

Brown has questioned whether Warren may have benefited from affirmative action and has asked for Warren to release all university personnel records, which would presumably show how she identified herself during the hiring process. Warren and at least one professor who was on the Harvard committee that recruited Warren say her Native American heritage was not discussed during hiring.

Warren and genealogical groups have not been able to provide documentation of her heritage. Warren says knowledge of her heritage was passed down to her through "family lore."

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