For someone who's going to play Mark Twain in an upcoming movie, rapper/actor Vanilla Ice might need to watch his choice of words.
Ice, who plays Twain in Adam Sandler's The Ridiculous Six, tried to defuse the controversy that the bound-for-Netflix movie is generating in regard to Native Americans.
Last week, actors of Native American descent walked off the set of The Ridiculous Six, claiming that jokes in the script were disrespectful to Native women and elders. Ice, who attended high school in Carrollton, said he symphathized with the Native American actors, but the movie is a comedy.
From the set of the movie filmed in New Mexico, Ice posted a photo on Instagram, which has been deleted, saying that he was with his "fellow Native's -- Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Choctaw. Cherokee."
Ice also told TMZ: "I am part Choctaw Indian, so I see both sides."
That claim aligned with a since-deleted 2013 tweet that he was "Chactaw" and his grandmother was a full-blood Native American.
But that might not be the case, according to two Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma citizens who researched Ice.
Rachel Byington and Erin Pinder Spiceland, using Ice's birth name of Robert Matthew Van Winkle, found his family tree online. Using that data, they searched Ancestry.com and discovered that Ice's grandmother on his maternal side was not Choctaw but of German descent.
"We saw what he posted in Twitter and we are in a Facebook group together for Choctaws," said Spiceland, a software engineer in Huntsville, Ala. "We're such a tightknit group that if he was one of us, we'd know it."
Byington, who lives in Madison, Wis., said she's never had a problem with Ice or his music, and understands that celebrities often make claims of Native heritage.
"But he's trying to claim something he's not, especially in support of racism," said Byington, 43. "That's where I draw the line."
In a tweet Monday afternoon, Ice wasn't backing off his claim: "I'm not going to pretend I'm Indian, Just because I have Indian blood. Sorry for any disrespect, to me Indians are American royalty."