October 12th, 2014 Last Updated on: October 12th, 2014
It wouldn't be the first time NFL team owner Dan Snyder has trotted out a “real” Native to support his cause to keep the name, only to be found out later they were a fake. Last year Deadspin ran an article about Chief Dodson, who was portrayed as “a full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska”. The terminology of that statement was all wrong and that's what led people into investigating his origins.
Now a new name defender's background is coming into question, Mark One Wolf. Dave Mckenna with Deadspin investigates the claim in his article. Below is an excerpt.
Public records show he was born Mark E. Yancey in 1973 in Washington D.C. He calls himself Mark Suzuki on online résumés. He's passed himself off as Mark Yan here and there and used that handle in comment sections wherever the name was being debated. He had a MySpace page using Kram Yecnay. The Redskins Facts organization ID'd him as Mark One Wolf, while he often contracts the surname by one character to OneWolf. And he touted the team's name on Facebook pages, including the Redskins Facts site, as “Mark Yazzie.” At least two of his Facebook pages— “Mark Yazzie” and “Mark OneWolf”— have been terminated for using pseudonyms. Of late, he has been going by Dalaa Ba'Cho.
His alleged tribal affiliations appear to be extremely malleable, too. Yancey watchers say that earlier this year One Wolf was calling himself a Cherokee while backing Snyder's naming rights on the message boards at powwows.com, a clearinghouse for Native issues. “He changed that when I called him out on it,” says Vanlandingham. On that same site, Yancey/One Wolf now ID's himself as DaLaa Ba'Cho and lists his affiliation as “Chiricahua Apache/Mexica.” North Carolina court records from 2007 (dug up by my colleague Diana Moskovitz) list him as “Native American/Alaskan.” His recent use of “Mark Yazzie” as his internet handle suggested to those familiar with native ways that he was trying to pass as Navajo. Turns out “Yazzie” is the “Smith” or “Jones” of that tribe; 18 of the approximately 300 Navajo Code Talkers recognized by Congress in 2011—including William Yazzie, a member of the original 29 Code Talkers and a Congressional Gold Medal recipient—had that surname. (The Redskins trotted out a quartet of Navajo Code Talkers in team gear during a Monday Night Football broadcast in November 2013 while the name debate was at a slower boil.)
“When he was calling himself ‘Mark Yazzie,' and saying he's Apache, that showed he doesn't do his research very well,” says Keeler, who adds that she is enrolled in the Navajo tribe. “If you're going to fake it, make it believable.”
“‘Mexica' is not a tribe,” says Ray Ramirez of the Native American Rights Fund, a Colorado group that began fighting against Indian-themed team mascots soon after its 1970 founding. “It's a word that's used to refer to mixed breeds between Spanish and Indian blood. You see that word used when people don't have a tribe.”
Eugene Herrod of the Southern California Indian Center (SCIC), who admits he has been monitoring Yancey's pro-name campaigning since last year, says there are two criteria generally used to identify natives: enrollment in a federally recognized tribe or “some sort of cultural relevance, such as being brought up in a native environment such as a reservation.”
So his claim of being Chiricahua Apache wouldn't fly with the SCIC, either. The greatest and most mythologized Indian warrior of them all, Geronimo, also identified himself as a Chiricahua Apache. But the U.S. government, which captured Geronimo in the late 19th century on the way to committing genocide against his people, no longer recognizes such a tribe. There is now only a website at ChiricahuaApache.org for a 501(c)(3) organization that offers membership to folks who fill out a form and pay $5 membership fee.
Herrod says that he's traced the Yancey family back a few generations and finds lots of African-American blood and some Asian, but no native blood and no branch on the family tree that ever got anywhere near any Indian reservation. Yancey's parents are both listed as alumni of Spingarn High School in Washington D.C., located right across Benning Road NE from the local NFL team's former home, RFK Stadium.
“For all that he says he is, there is not one single tribe that claims him,” Herrod says. “Nobody knows who he is. 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.”
The article gets even more in-depth, and One Wolf has an explanation for everything written above. But a lot of Natives aren't buying his story. For more details keep reading over at Deadspin.
Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture »