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Choctaw Nation citizens slam Vanilla Ice's shaky ancestry claim

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment | National
More on: choctaw, film, race, racism, stereotypes, women
     


Vanilla Ice portrays Mark Twain on The Ridiculous Six. Photo from Instagram

As actor and rapper Vanilla Ice defended his participation in an Adam Sandler film that's drawing criticism around the world, he reiterated his questionable claims of Indian heritage.

Vanilla Ice, whose birth name is Robert Matthew Van Winkle, portrays Mark Twain in The Ridiculous Six. He said he sympathized with the Native American actors who walked off the set last week in New Mexico.

“I am part Choctaw Indian, so I see both sides,” Vanilla Ice told TMZ.

At the same time, he defended the satiric nature of the film over objections from the Native actors who said the script contains jokes that are disrespectful to Native women and elders. "This movie isn't 'Dancing with Wolves' ... it's comedy," the rapper said in reference to the 1990 film that has been praised for its inclusion of Native actors and languages.

This isn't the first time Vanilla Ice has claimed to be Indian. In a tweet from December 2013 that has since been deleted, he said he was "Chactaw" and that his grandmother was "full blood."

And last week, he posted a picture on Instagram from the set of the film in New Mexico. He boasted that he was with his "fellow Native's - Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Choctaw. Cherokee."

But citizens of the Choctaw Nation looked into the actor's heritage claims and found them to be without merit. Rachel Byington and Erin Pinder Spiceland researched his family tree and discovered that the "full blood" grandmother on his maternal side in fact was the descendant of German immigrants to the U.S.

"We think that Mr. Ice needs to study his family tree a little more, because we didn’t find a 'Chactaw Grandma' anywhere in it," Byington and Spiceland said in a press release.

"There’s a vast difference in self-identifying as a Native American person and being a member of a federally recognized tribe,” added Alicia Seyler, an attorney who also is a Choctaw citizen.

Get the Story:
Cool Down, Native Americans ... Sandler's No Kevin Costner (TMZ 4/26)
Vanilla Ice says he's Native American, defends 'Ridiculous Six' (USA Today 4/27)

Related Stories:
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Native actors storm off set of Adam Sandler film in New Mexico (4/23)


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