Reclaiming James One Star; PART FOUR

(The Washington Redskins claim that the name of their franchise derives
from a 1930s honoring of the team’s head coach William “Lone Star” Dietz,
who, they state, was Native American. In the previous three parts of this
series it is learned that William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz was not Oglala
Lakota, that he did not attend Chilocco Indian School, and that the
romantic story of his birth and childhood in South Dakota was fabricated.)

Dietz was not a Plains Indian, and John C. Ewers, “one of the nation’s
foremost scholars in the ethnology of the Plains Indians and the history of
the West,” should have noticed that the childhood story Dietz provided for
“How Art Misrepresents the Indian” does not match the historical timeline
of the Lakota people, let alone the historical timeline of his real family.

He was born far too late for the “uprisings” surrounding the Bozeman Trail
led by Red Cloud, or any of the outbreaks related to the transcontinental
railroad surveys through Lakota territory, not to mention the invasion of
the Black Hills by miners and the final, so called, “breaking of Sioux
resistance” in 1877. All these events had been well over by 1884, the year
of Dietz’s birth. Even the last transcontinental line of the Northern
Pacific had been completed by 1883, two years after Chief Sitting Bull had
returned from his Canadian exodus to find himself an ironic and iconic
guest of honor at the opening ceremonies – and still Dietz had not yet been

Dietz never lived in South Dakota. He grew up in Rice Lake, Wis., at least
from infancy if not from birth. Census records, newspapers, court documents
and a birth certificate confirm this. Although his father was a German
American, he had never worked as a civil engineer. He was the village
marshall of Rice Lake when his son was born. There is some possibility that
Dietz had Native ancestry through his mother, but she was not an Oglala
woman or named Julia One Star, as he claimed. Regardless of his biological
origin, however, culturally speaking, the highly imaginative and creative
William Henry Dietz was raised as a typical Euro-American boy who might
have been, as a family member confided, teased for “looking Indian.”

But none of this is really a crime. What is criminal is that “Lone Star”
Dietz created himself from the traces of the missing Oglala man, James One
Star. One Star was born about 1872 (in time for the outbreaks), grew up on
the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, was taken to Carlisle Indian
school in 1889 (the year of the Ghost Dance revival), enlisted in the army
at Carlisle, Pa. on August 9, 1892, and disappeared when he was discharged
in Alabama on Sept. 15, 1894.

On February 1, 1919 (just five days before DeCora died) the Associated
Press reported that “the Indian coach” was a “Teuton.” Dietz was indicted
for falsifying his draft registration in claiming he was “One Star,” a Pine
Ridge allottee who had non-citizen Indian status, making him exempt from
military service. A newspaper excerpt from the trial told how it all began:

Before going to Carlisle, he visited St. Louis at the time of the World’s
Fair, and met an Indian there who told him that he was undoubtedly One
Star, his mother being Julia One Star. He got into correspondence with
Sally Eagle Horse, who had a brother, One Star, who had left home when 16
years of age, and had never been heard from again. So he decided to take
the name of Lone Star, it meaning the same as One Star.

During the trial, the prosecution called the Oglala “sister” Dietz claimed
was his own. Through an interpreter, Sally Eagle Horse confirmed she had
not heard from James One Star for nearly 30 years – just before he entered
the army after leaving Carlisle in 1892. She further testified that her
brother had a scar on his forehead where he was hit with an axe, his ears
had been pierced and he had different features. No, Lone Star Dietz was not
her brother. The two other witnesses from Pine Ridge agreed and believed
Dietz was really a “white man,” even though he had collected two annuity
payments in 1916 meant for James One Star.

Yet this was probably not just because he needed the money. 1916 was the
year of his team’s highly-publicized victory at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, after
which a St. Paul, Minn. newspaper report asked how could Dietz be “Indian”
when he was “German” when he had attended college in St. Paul. Maybe Dietz
panicked and applied for James One Star’s annuity so his existence would be
recorded. The day he was indicted he stated: “If they want the truth as to
whether I’m an Indian they can look me up in the records of Pine Ridge,
Dakota Indian reservation, or at Carlisle where I played football.”

Military records show that the family of James One Star feared he had died
during the Spanish American War, and in 1908 had also inquired about his
whereabouts. Both the Secretary of the Association of Indian Rights, M.K.
Sniffen, and Richard Henry Pratt, Carlisle Indian School’s founder, wrote
to the War Department. The answer to these queries indicate that One Star
did not seem to benefit from his Indian education at Carlisle, where Pratt
supported the principle, “Kill the Indian in him and save the Man.” James
One Star was dishonorably discharged two years after his enlistment,
primarily because his military commander decided he was “a worthless
drunkard.” There is no known record of his whereabouts since then.

(Continued in Part Five)

Linda Waggoner has taught for 12 years in the American Multicultural
Studies and Philosophy departments at Sonoma State University in
California. She is currently finishing a biography on Winnebago artist and
educator Angel DeCora Dietz (1869 – 1919) and has written “Neither White
Men Nor Indians”, published in 2002.


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Reclaiming James One Star; PART FOUR