“We can’t find anything about him that’s native, and we’ve had a lot of people look into this,” Jacqueline Keeler, an Oregon writer and activist against native mascots, told McKenna.
“For all that he says he is, there is not one single tribe that claims him,” said Eugene Herrod of the Southern California Indian Center, who researched the Yancey family. “Nobody knows who he is,” he told McKenna. “Everything we’ve found about him and his parents indicates that they identify as African American. As far as I can tell, I think he’s read a lot about Indians, but that doesn’t make him an Indian.”
Yancey’s many pseudonyms in public records and on the Internet — which include “Mark Suzuki,” “Mark Yan,” “Kram Yecnay,” “Mark One Wolf,” “Mark Yazzie” and “Dalaa Ba’Cho” — as well as his ambiguous tribal affiliation cast further doubt on his identity.
In an interview with McKenna, Yancey explained why he didn’t feel it necessary to prove he is an Indian with a DNA test or a blood test:
“If an Asian person says I’m Japanese, nobody asks him to prove it,” Yancey says. “If I said I was Puerto Rican nobody would say: ‘Oh, really? Then where did you grow up?’ If you say you’re white, people won’t ask for your white man’s card. The only ethnicity that’s required to have an identification card is Native American. I never confirm or deny any tribal membership because it is not relevant. I don’t get into blood quantum, either, because that’s a colonial mindset. I’ve never looked into my blood quantum, so I don’t know what it [would tell]. I have always been a Chiricahua Apache, and the only reason I know that is because that’s what my family told me. Your grandmother tells you something, you’re going to believe it.”
McKenna, who has written for The Washington Post, has tussled with the Redskins before. Redskins owner Dan Snyder sued Washington City Paper and McKenna for defamation in 2011 over an unflattering piece, “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.” The suit was dropped later that year.
Yancey has been an outspoken advocate for the Washington football team as columnists and advocates pressure Snyder to change its name. Founder of Native American Redskins Fans, he has called for a boycott of The Washington Post over its editorial board’s decision not to use the team’s name.
“Washington Post we are silenced no more, hear us now,” the organization wrote, as reported by the fan Web site httr4life. “You have now been Boycotted for your injustice. As Native Americans, Redskins fans and supporters we feel that your post has unjustly ignored those of us who support the Redskins name. We feel the Redskins name represents our Native American community in a very positive, and honorable light.”
The Redskins have put Native Americans with questionable credentials in the spotlight before. Last year, an alleged chief who appeared on the show “Redskins Nation,” produced by the team, was not a chief, and probably not Native American, as UPI reported.
“There’s always another one,” Keeler told McKenna.