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`Apocalypto' actor's ancestry questioned

`I am Comanche,' insists Rudy Youngblood, who is being honored by a Native American group.

March 28, 2007|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

Meanwhile, Yeagley's own American Indian heritage has been questioned by his critics. The website DavidYeagley.org, a forum for anti-Yeagley commentary, claims Yeagley had a Comanche stepmother and "was never raised in Comanche ways and was never taught them."

The Oklahoma-based Yeagley scoffed at the allegations. "Their only defense is to discredit me, saying that I am not an Indian." He said his mother was a Comanche with some Chickasaw, and his father was part German and part English.

Yeagley, whose attacks on Youngblood can be found at his website BadEagle.com, has infuriated many Indians with his endorsement of Columbus Day parades and the use of Indian mascots on campuses, something that many Native Americans find offensive. Yeagley's critics often vent against him on BadEagle.org, whose similar-sounding Web address is intended to lure surfers away from Yeagley's site.

Donna Talamantes, a trustee of the First Americans in the Arts group, said they have received e-mails and letters from Yeagley and his supporters protesting the group's plan to honor Youngblood at next month's Beverly Hills banquet.

But she says they have no plans to cancel the award.

"We went back and forth, and we believe him to be who he says he is," she said. "We've talked to family members and community members who will vouch for him."

Talamantes lamented that the flap has ensnared a promising young actor. "The sad thing is that as Native Americans, we are the only people in the country who have to prove who we are as native peoples."

robert.welkos@latimes.com

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