Oh Dan Snyder, you just won’t learn will you.
The Washington Redskins owner, who has been defiant in his defense of the purportedly offensive team name, tried to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes by employing the services of a real life Indian chief, to put a halt to the criticism the organization has been getting.
And it would’ve worked if it wasn’t for the meddlesome investigative journalism of one Dave McKenna of Deadspin.
Chief Dodson, was said to be “a full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska” who “represents more than 700 remaining tribe members” by the Redskins PR department. Dodson appeared on “Redskins Nation” a show produced by Snyder and hosted by Larry Michael, and made a few bold statements in defense of the team name.
“Being a full-blooded Indian with my whole family behind me, we had a big problem with some of the things that were coming out [in the debate over the name],” 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. We’re quite honored.”
He also said the name “redskin” wasn’t offensive at all, but was a term of endearment where he came from.
“It’s actually a term of endearment that we would refer to each other as,” Dodson said. “When we were on the reservation, we’d call each other, ‘Hey, what’s up, redskin?’ We’d nickname it and call each other ‘Skins.’ We respected each other with that term. … It’s not degrading in one bit.”
Well Mr. Dodson here, according to the story, is anything but a full-blooded Indian or chief.
Let’s start with that last part. Apparently nobody but Dodson says Dodson’s really a chief. The work shirt from Charley’s Crane Services that Dodson wore on Redskins Nation had “Chief Dodson” stitched into it alongside the company’s name. But the only references I could find to Dodson and “Chief” that predate his appearance as “Redskin”-lovin’ aboriginal royalty appeared in court records in Maryland. Case files from some of Stephen D. Dodson’s scrapes with the law—involving theft, paternity, and domestic violence matters—have “Chief” listed as one of the defendant’s AKAs.
Dodson’s sister even dimed him out, saying that the Redskins used him to push their agenda without doing any kind of background check.
Carla Brueshaber, who identified herself as Dodson’s sister, said she had nothing to do with the Indian Country Today comment, but she confirmed that Dodson wasn’t as advertised on the Redskins program. “No, he’s not a chief, not technically. It’s a nickname,” said Brueshaber, now living in Bellefontaine, Ohio, where Dodson went to high school, according to his 2000 wedding announcement in the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.
Asked why she thought Dodson was being portrayed by the Redskins and the NFL as an authentic Indian chief, Brueshaber said, “Somebody made a mistake and called him [Chief]. The Redskins went full steam ahead with it. They didn’t check it because it was helping them.”
Include the fact that neither of the Inuits or Aleuts calls anyone in the tribe “Chief” or refers to themselves an “Indians” but native Alaskans, and the whole thing seems even sillier. Unsurprisingly, the term “redskin” isn’t a name native Alaskans call each other affectionately, says Kelly Eningowuk, executive director of the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska.
What of Dodson’s contention that Aleuts and/or Inuits regularly use “redskin” as a term of endearment? “I have never called anybody ‘redskin,'” Eningowuk said. “Nobody I know has ever called me ‘redskin.’ I have never heard any Inuit call somebody ‘redskin.'”
When confronted with facts contradicting his entire story, Dodson remained defiant.
When I told him that various groups representing Inuits and Aleuts in Alaska question the description of him as a “full-blooded Inuit Chief originally of Aleutian tribes,” Dodson said, “I don’t get into organizational things like that. We are a people and that’s what we need to focus on, instead of dealing with non-profits run by Mexicans.”
In this day and age of transparency Snyder really should have known better, now he’s left standing with egg on his face, a fake Indian chief and a team name that still draws heavy criticism.