American Football Database
William Henry Dietz
File:101 dietz carlisle.JPG
Dietz, as a member of the Carlisle football team between 1909 and 1912
Sport(s)Football, baseball
Biographical details
Born(1884-08-17)August 17, 1884
Rice Lake, Wisconsin
DiedJuly 20, 1964(1964-07-20) (aged 79)
Reading, Pennsylvania
Playing career
Head coaching record
Overall93–58–7 (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 was the head coach of 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.

Dietz's true identity remains controversial. Although he is recognized as an "Indian athlete" by Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, Indian Country Today Media Network ran a series of articles in 2004 exposing Dietz as a white man masquerading as an Indian.[1] 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.

Early life

According to census records and to his birth certificate,[2] 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.

"Willie" attended Oklahoma's Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, where he may have feigned some kind of Indian identity for the first time according to researcher Linda Waggoner. She wrote, "Naturally, visitors to the St. Louis World's Fair exhibit, including Dietz's future wife, Winnebago artist Angel De Cora (1871–1919), thought Dietz was a Chilocco student."[3] Waggoner traced Dietz' heritage in several articles in Indian Country Today Media Network and at a 2013 symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Contested heritage

Dietz's heritage was first contested in 1916 after former neighbors who settled on the Pacific Coast heard he was posing as an Indian. 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.[4] Still, the judge instructed the jury to determine whether Dietz "believed" he was an Indian, 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 Indian 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".[4]

Playing career

Dietz played at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with teammate Jim Thorpe, under famed coach Pop Warner.[5]

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.[6]

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. He and Doris were so poor that former teammates purchased his headstone. It reads: "William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz born in South Dakota."[7]

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.[8] 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.[9][10]


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.

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
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 2–6 10th
1925 Wyoming 6–3 4–3 5th
1926 Wyoming 2–4–2 1–2–2 8th
Wyoming: 10–13–2 7–11–2
Haskell Indians (Independent) (1929–1932)
1929 Haskell 6–2
1930 Haskell 9–1
1931 Haskell 6–4
1932 Haskell 2–4–1
Haskell: 23–11–1
Albright Lions () (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: 93–58–7
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


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
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.

College baseball

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


  1. Linda M. Waggoner, Reclaiming James One Star, Indian Country Today Media Network, 5 pt. series, July 2, 12, 20, 27, Aug. 8, 2004.
  2. Richard Leiby (November 6, 2013). "The legend of Lone Star Dietz: Redskins namesake, coach — and possible impostor?". Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  3. Linda M. Waggoner, "On Trial The Washington R*dskins' Wily Mascot: Coach William Lone Star Dietz", Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Spring 2013, pp. 24-47. Available at
  4. 4.0 4.1 "On Trial: The R*dskins Wily Mascot: Coach William "Lone Star" Dietz". Montana, the Magazine of Western History.
  5. Richard Leiby (November 6, 2013). "The legend of Lone Star Dietz: Redskins namesake, coach — and possible impostor?". The Washington Post.
  6. Waggoner, "On Trial: The Washington Redskins Wily Mascot"
  7. Waggoner, "On Trial: The Washington R*dskins Wily Mascot"
  8. The Racist Redskins
  10. 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

External links