William Henry Dietz
Dietz, as a member of the Carlisle football team between 1909 and 1912
Biographical details
Born(1884-08-17)August 17, 1884
Rice Lake, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedJuly 20, 1964(1964-07-20) (aged 79)
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1915–1917Washington State
1918Mare Island Marines
1922–1923Louisiana Tech
1933–1934Boston Redskins
1936Ole Miss (assistant)
1923Louisiana Tech
Head coaching record
Overall105–60–7 (college football)
16–6 (college baseball)
11–11–2 (NFL)
Accomplishments and honors
1 PCC (1917)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2012 (profile)

William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz (August 17, 1884 – July 20, 1964) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at Washington State University (1915–1917), Purdue University (1921), Louisiana Tech University (1922–1923), University of Wyoming (1924–1926), Haskell Institute—now known as Haskell Indian Nations University (1929–1932), and Albright College (1937–1942). From 1933 to 1934, Dietz served as the head coach for the National Football League's Boston Redskins, where he tallied a mark of 11–11–2. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2012.

Early life

According to census records and to his birth certificate,[1] he was born William Henry Dietz, or "Willie," on August 17, 1884, in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, at 16 West Humbird Street. His father William Wallace Dietz, settled in the area in 1871 and was elected county sheriff in 1877. His father married Leanna Ginder in November 1879.

Dietz was an employee of and briefly claimed to attend Oklahoma's Chilocco Indian Agricultural School. He left the school after appearing in one football game for them and did not graduate. He attended Macalester College in Minnesota in 1902 and 1903. Dietz enrolled at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania beginning in 1907 and was a star player for their football team.[2]

Contested heritage

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Dietz's heritage was first contested in 1916 after former neighbors who settled on the Pacific Coast heard he was posing as a Native American. In December 1918 the Federal Bureau of Investigation looked into his heritage after he registered for the draft as a "Non-Citizen Indian" with an allotment. The Bureau found he had taken on the identity of James One Star, an Oglala man of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation 12 years his senior who had disappeared in Cuba in 1894. Dietz also claimed he was the head of an American film company that produced propaganda films for the war.

Dietz was tried in Spokane, Washington in June 1919 for the first offense. One Star's sister, Sallie Eaglehorse, testified after seeing him for the first time at the trial that Dietz was definitely not her brother.[2] Still, the judge instructed the jury to determine whether Dietz "believed" he was a Native American, not whether it was true. Despite that others had witnessed his birth in the summer of 1884 or had seen him the following day, Dietz's mother Leanna claimed he was the Native American son of her husband who had been switched a week or more after she had a stillbirth. Dietz's acting ability along with his mother's fallacious testimony (to protect him from prison) resulted in a hung jury, but Dietz was immediately re-indicted. The second trial resulted in a sentence of 30 days in the Spokane County Jail after he pleaded "no contest".[2]

Dietz's true heritage remains controversial. Although he is recognized as an "Indian athlete" by Dan Snyder, former owner of the Washington Commanders (formerly known as the Washington Redskins), Indian Country Today Media Network ran a series of articles in 2004 exposing Dietz as a white man masquerading as a Native American.[3] In 1988, the National Congress of American Indians attempted to meet and discuss the issue with the team's former owner, Jack Kent Cooke, but Cooke refused a meeting. Researcher Linda Waggoner traced Dietz's heritage in several articles in Indian Country Today Media Network and at a 2013 symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Playing career

Dietz played at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with teammate Jim Thorpe, under famed coach Pop Warner.[1]

Coaching career

In 1921, Dietz took a coaching position with Purdue University in Indiana. After Angel De Cora died in 1919, he married Doris O. Pottlitzer, a middle-aged local journalist, on January 29, 1922. The week previous to their marriage, Purdue officials fired him for illegal recruiting. In spring 1933, George Preston Marshall, owner of the Boston Braves, hired Dietz to replace Coach Lud Wray. In 1937, the team moved to Washington, D.C.[2]

For the rest of his life, Dietz continued to promote himself as Lone Star Dietz, the son of W. W. and Julia One Star of Pine Ridge. He took on his last coaching job in 1937 for Albright College in Pennsylvania; in 1964, still married to Doris, Dietz died in Reading, Pennsylvania. Later in life, Dietz was an active painter exhibiting his work at Lafayette College with in an exhibit curated by Francis Quirk.[4] He and Doris were so poor that former teammates purchased his headstone. It reads: "William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz born in South Dakota."[2]

George Preston Marshall, owner and founder of the Boston Braves, sought to rename the franchise in 1933 after leaving the stadium the team had shared with the baseball team of the same name. Marshall was said to have named the Redskins in honor of Dietz, who claimed to be of the Sioux Nation, by analogy with the Red Sox who shared the team's new home, Fenway Park.[5] A 1933 news article quotes Marshall as saying he named the team because of real Indians on the team. However, Marshall is only talking about why he specifically chose Redskins. Dietz was hired before the name change and is cited in many articles and by Marshall as being a reason he kept the Native American theme when changing the team name.[6][7]


Dietz was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.


Dietz named himself "Lone Star" after James One Star, the alleged nephew of an Oglala Buffalo Bill Performer sometime after the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. "Lone Star" and "One Star" are the same name in Oglala.[citation needed]

Personal life

Dietz divorced De Cora in November 1918, charging her with abandonment. It is not clear how much she knew about his identity. She died six days after his indictment. Later in life, Dietz was an active painter, exhibiting his work at Lehigh University with sculptors Joseph Brown and José de Rivera in a 1955 exhibit curated by Francis Quirk.[4]

Head coaching record

College football

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Washington State (Independent) (1915–1916)
1915 Washington State 7–0 W Rose
1916 Washington State 4–2
Washington State (Pacific Coast Conference) (1917)
1917 Washington State 6–0–1 3–0 1st
Washington State: 17–2–1 3–0
Mare Island Marines (Independent) (1918)
1918 Mare Island Marines 10–1 L Rose
Mare Island Marines: 10–1
Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten Conference) (1921)
1921 Purdue 1–6 1–4 T–8th
Purdue: 1–6 1–4
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Louisiana Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1922–1923)
1922 Louisiana Tech 5–1–1 1–1–1 3rd
1923 Louisiana Tech 6–2 2–1 T–2nd
Louisiana Tech: 11–3–1
Wyoming Cowboys (Rocky Mountain Conference) (1924–1926)
1924 Wyoming 2–6 1–6 10th
1925 Wyoming 6–3 4–3 5th
1926 Wyoming 2–4–2 1–2–2 8th
Wyoming: 10–13–2 6–11–2
Haskell Indians (Independent) (1929–1932)
1929 Haskell 8–2
1930 Haskell 9–1
1931 Haskell 6–4
1932 Haskell 2–5–1
Haskell: 25–12–1
Albright Lions (Independent) (1937–1942)
1937 Albright 7–0–1
1938 Albright 4–5–1
1939 Albright 5–4
1940 Albright 5–5
1941 Albright 6–4
1942 Albright 4–5
Albright: 31–23–2
Total: 105–60–7


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Boston Redskins (Eastern) (1933–1934)
1933 Boston Redskins 5–5–2 3rd
1934 Boston Redskins 6–6 2nd
Boston Redskins: 11–11–2
Total: 11–11–2

College baseball

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs () (1923)
1923 Louisiana Tech 16–6
Louisiana Tech: 16–6
Total: 16–6


  1. ^ a b Leiby, Richard (November 6, 2013). "The legend of Lone Star Dietz: Redskins namesake, coach — and possible impostor?". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Waggoner, Linda M. "On Trial: The R*dskins Wily Mascot: Coach William "Lone Star" Dietz" (PDF). Montana, the Magazine of Western History – via National Museum of the American Indian.
  3. ^ Linda M. Waggoner, Reclaiming James One Star, Indian Country Today Media Network, 5 pt. series, July 2, 12, 20, 27, Aug. 8, 2004.
  4. ^ a b "Brown and White Volume 67 Number 19 6 December 1955". Brown and White Lafayette University. 6 December 1955.
  5. ^ Tomasky, Michael (November 10, 2011). "The Racist Redskins". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved July 19, 2020. (a review of the book Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins (2011) by Thomas G. Smith)
  6. ^ "Boston Team Will Be Known As Redskins". Portsmouth Times (image of newspaper clipping). Portsmouth, Ohio. 1933-07-18. p. 9.
  7. ^ McCartney, Robert (May 28, 2014). "1933 news article refutes cherished tale that Redskins were named to honor Indian coach". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 29, 2014.

Further reading