Jacqueline Keeler: Media enables fake Indian mascot defenders

Supporters of a racist mascot in Lancaster, New York, brought in two allies: Mark One Wolf Yancey, whose Indian heritage is in question, and Joe Milk, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who lives in South Dakota and was flown in by an anonymous donor. Photo by WBEN NewsRadio 930AM / Twitter

Jacqueline Keeler finds not one but two fake Indians who showed up to defend a racist public school mascot in New York:
Eugene Herrod from the Southern California Indian Center has done extensive background research on Mark Yancey and of Dennis “Yellowhorse” Jones. Jones is a white in-law of a Navajo family who passed himself off as Native American at the Lancaster meeting. Herrod found deep African American family roots in Yancey’s family in North Carolina. Still, Yancey claims an Apache identity, despite his ancestors have no connection with the Southwest, and he recently began using a common Navajo surname “Yazzie” on Facebook.

When I spoke to Herrod he was exasperated by Yancy and Jones’ charades. “Even when you disprove who they are they will not go away!” he said.

Even The New York Times, the U.S. newspaper of record, flatly described Mark Yancey as “Native American” in an article about the Lancaster meeting without any clarification. When I tweeted to the reporter a request for a correction, he tweeted back to me, “I've read reports that call into question Yancey's Native heritage. He maintains that he is. I'm not taking a position either way.”

I checked the Associated Press Stylebook which gave the following guideline for reporters: “Native American: Acceptable for those in the U.S. Follow the person's preference. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe.” I checked the New York Times’ correction policy that stated, “Because its voice is loud and far-reaching, The Times recognizes an ethical responsibility to correct all its factual errors, large and small (even misspellings of names), promptly and in a prominent reserved space in the paper.”

Obviously, Yancey and Jones’ preference is to be called Native American; however, simply labeling both of these imposters as such without mentioning questions regarding their identity misleads the reader into believing they are Native American.

Get the Story:
Jacqueline Keeler: Indians Today: Real and Unreal (Indian Country Today 3/12)

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