Chief Zee, also not an actual chief

Deadspin: 'Full-Blooded Chief' Redskins Defender Not a Chief!

ICTMN Staff
6/27/13

"One of the more entertaining parts of Redskins owner Dan Snyder's effort [to defend the team's name] has been his ongoing Indians-love-'Redskins' campaign, whereby the team calls attention to any high schools in tribal areas that don't hate the name, and to any Indian officials who are OK with it, too," writes Deadspin.com's Dave McKenna this afternoon.

This effort went to a whole new level on May 3, when Redskins.com Redskins Nation program featured an interview with Stephen Dodson, "a full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska," who as "the eldest member of his blood line...represents more than 700 remaining tribe members." Dodson had come forward, he said, because "People are speaking for Native Americans that aren’t Native American. Being a full-blooded Indian with my whole family behind me, we had a big problem with all the things that were coming out [of the discussion],” he said. “I think they were basically saying that we were offended, our people were offended, and they were misrepresenting the Native American nation."

“We don’t have a problem with [the name] at all; in fact we’re honored," asserted Dodson. "We’re quite honored.”

This was such impressive "testimony" that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell used it in a response letter to Congress members who had written to Snyder, Goodell, and others urging the team's offensive, racist name be changed. Nonsense, wrote Goodell, the "name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."

In his letter to Congress defending the use of the "positive" term Redskins, Goodell cited the "recent remarks of Chief Steven [sic] Dodson, an American Inuit Chief and resident of Prince Georges [sic] County" as proof that the "positive meaning [of Redskins] is shared by the overwhelming majority of football fans and Americans generally, including Native Americans." He also included an actual copy of the Redskins.com May 3 post, "Native American Chief Talks About Redskins," featuring the team's interview with Dodson.

But doubts about Dodson's heritage and status as a chief started coming forward soon after a story on his Redskins.com remarks appeared on the Indian Country Today Media Network website. One person, indicating that they were a relation of Dodson's wrote: 

"I'd like to clear some stuff up here. I'm Stephen's uncle, he was raised by my brother, his eldest uncle, not his father. We are Aleut, not Inuit and he is 1/4, not full, as his mother, my sister, is only a half. Stephen isn't a "chief" but in the Air Force that was his nickname, as it was my brother's nickname in the Marine Corp. I'm not even sure Stephen has been to Alaska, to be honest about it all. I know my brother never went to Alaska while he was alive, none of my six siblings have, as far as I know. I have no problem with Stephen expressing his views or standing up for what he believes in, but let's keep it honest. We were all raised in the mid-west, in Oklahoma until my other sisters and I were forced to move to South Carolina to live with our sperm donor. I don't know if the person that wrote this interview embellished Stephens stats or what, but the truth is as I have stated here. Stephen is a good man, a great father and I love him as a son. I know my brother loved him as a son because he adopted him as his own when our sister wasn't capable of taking care of him. I personally find the Redskins name offensive, but we don't always agree on things like this. I know some Indians that aren't offended by the Redskins name and more still that are. The fact remains that it is a racial slur and therefore wrong in my opinion."

And now Deadspin's McKenna appears to have uncovered the truth about Dodson's heritage and status as a chief. "Alas, there's a lot of evidence that Chief Dodson—whose real name is Stephen D. Dodson—ain't the perfect pitchman that Snyder and Goodell want him to be. It turns out that the 'full-blooded American Inuit chief' is neither a full-blooded American Inuit nor a chief in any formal sense of the term."

In addition to referring to the ICTMN story, McKenna spoke with a number of sources who could speak knowledgably on the subject, including a woman who identifies herself as Dodson's sister. He also spoke with Dodson. Read McKenna's  article by clicking HERE.

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