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Ward Churchill Says U. of Colo. Dropping Indian Probe

The University of Colorado has dropped its investigation into the American Indian heritage of the professor who came under fire for likening Sept. 11 victims to an infamous Nazi, the professor himself says.

A letter from the university dated Friday said a faculty panel decided to drop the matter, Ward Churchill (search) said Monday.

"There's no basis to proceed," Churchill quoted the letter as saying, later adding: "It should have never been an issue."

"It can be taken as that 'we're not functioning as boards of racial purity with a board of white guys that sit around and decide who's an Indian and who's not.'"

University spokeswoman Pauline Hale said the panel's work is confidential and declined to comment on the story, first reported by KUSA-TV.

The subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct (search) was close to finishing its work, Hale said.

Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies, wrote an essay shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks comparing some World Trade Center victims to Adolf Eichmann (search), one of the Nazis who orchestrated the Holocaust. The essay drew scant attention until earlier this year, when Churchill was invited to speak at a college in upstate New York.

He has refused to retract the statement but said he wishes he had phrased it differently.

CU leaders said he couldn't be fired over the Sept. 11 statements because of First Amendment protections, but they ordered the faculty panel to review allegations of plagiarism and false claims of Indian background to give his research more credibility.

"You've got essentially, a gaggle of white guys out there trying to discredit me, and the worst they can do is call me a white guy," he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

He also has said his mother and grandmother told him he was part Indian, and he thought of himself that way while growing up in Illinois.

In his response to the plagiarism allegations, Churchill's lawyer, David Lane, has said that in one instance the professor simply took articles written by other people and put them together for a chapter of one book, which Churchill did not take credit for.

In at least two other cases Lane has said Churchill wrote articles and gave them to others who took credit for them.