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Research: 'Redskins' coach faked Indian heritage

William "Lone Star" Dietz, the famed coach of the Washington Redskins, faked his Indian heritage, according to a researcher from Sonoma State University in California.

Dietz claimed to be an Oglala Sioux who was born in South Dakota. He attended Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania with Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe. As legend goes, he was the inspiration for the "Redskins" team, previously known as the "Braves."

But Linda Waggoner, a multicultural studies professor, said Dietz wasn't Indian. While researching his wife, Angel DeCora Dietz, a Winnebago artist whom Dietz met at Carlisle, she discovered that he had assumed the identity of James One Star, an Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge who would have been around the same age as Dietz.

Waggoner's research isn't the first time Dietz' heritage has been questioned, however. In the 1920s, he was accused of misrepresenting his ancestry in order to escape the World War I draft. A trial was held but ended in a hung jury. New charges resulted in Dietz pleading no contest.

The Redskins team has used Dietz' story to justify the continued use of the name. A group of Indian activists, led by Suzan Shown Harjo, is challenging the team's registered trademarks in court. The lawsuit was revived by an appeals court, who said the case can continue based on the claims of Mateo Romero, a Pueblo artist who was born when the first marks were registered.

Get the Story:
Heritage built on half-truth? (The Baltimore Sun 8/30)

William "Lone Star" Dietz Research:
Linda Waggoner: Reclaiming James One Star (Indian Country Today 2004)

Appeals Court Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (July 15, 2005)

Lower Court Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (September 30, 2003)

Patent and Trademark Office Ruling:
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (1999)

Relevant Links:
Redskins -

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