Ms Cashman first made the complaint to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who forwarded the matter to the AFP in what his office said was routine procedure and did not reflect his views.
Professor Pascoe, 72, grew up unaware of any Aboriginal heritage until he was 32 and a conversation with his uncle prompted him to begin researching.
He said he found Indigenous ancestors from both sides of his family: the Yuin people from the south coast of NSW and the Boonwurrung (Bunurong) people.
Last November Ms Cashman, a member of the Voice Co-Design Senior Advisory Group and former member of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, tweeted: “Bruce Pascoe is not Aboriginal. My son is Yuin and his father doesn’t know who is. Our communities find this offensive. Shame!”
In an interview with The Sunday Age this week, Professor Pascoe said he believed the allegations were an attempt to discredit Dark Emu, which draws on primary accounts from European explorers to argue Indigenous Australians had sophisticated agricultural practices before white settlement.
The book caused controversy by pushing back on traditional narratives that Indigenous Australians lived solely hunter-gatherer lifestyles. He was a joint winner of the $30,000 Indigenous Writers’ Prize in NSW for his best-selling work.
Ms Cashman also tweeted her view that Dark Emu was a “fictional distortion… [creating] devastating harm and Pascoe is benefiting financially”.
She gained support from conservative elements of the media about his heritage and the evidence presented in Dark Emu.
The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, from where Professor Pascoe traced his roots, also questioned his ancestry.
“We are such a small community down here … we know who has Aboriginal ancestry in Tasmania,” chairman Michael Mansell said.
Ms Cashman told Sky News she made the complaint after being contacted by Aboriginal people in NSW and Victoria.
“My motivation is from my people, those people who are voiceless or who don’t have access to a voice and aren’t heard,” Ms Cashman said.
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt criticised Ms Cashman this month, saying he did not believe the allegations were appropriate.
Professor Pascoe has acknowledged his links are distant, writing in his latest essay collection Salt that “clinical analysis of genes says I’m more Cornish than Koori”.
“I am sure a lot of non-Aboriginal people think that pale-skinned Aboriginal people shouldn’t identify, especially when it goes back to great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers and I understand that,” Professor Pascoe told The Sunday Age.
Zach is a reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org