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Indian-Chief Who Defended ‘Redskins’ May Not Be Indian-Chief After All

by Chris Lingebach
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credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - In recent months, both the Washington Redskins and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have used the testimony of one Maryland resident claiming to be “an American Inuit chief” to show Native support for the nickname Redskins, but they’ve been duped, according to Dave McKenna’s report for Deadspin.

“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,” said Chief Dodson, who’s been identified by McKenna as Steven Dallas Dodson, of Prince George’s County, Md.

Dodson made the above comments in an interview with Larry Michael on the Redskins-owned-and-operated television program “Redskins Nation” on May 3, 2013, comments which were later relayed by the team in a press release.

Goodell himself even cited Dodson’s testimony in his response to the Congressional Native American Caucus – a group of 10 members of Congress pushing for the team to change its name due to its offensive nature – the same response in which Goodell wrote the nickname is a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

The one problem here is, according to McKenna, Dodson is not an “American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska” who “represents more than 700 remaining tribe members.”

According to McKenna, Dodson is an employee at Charley’s Crane Service, a local tow company based in Landover, Md., where he’s referred to as ‘Chief’ around the office; a self-applied nickname confirmed by court records that tie Dodson to theft, paternity and domestic violence matters.

“It’s actually a term of endearment that we would refer to each other as,” Dodson said of the name ‘Redskin’ during his “Redskins Nation” appearance. “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.”

According to McKenna, Aleuts don’t even call themselves ‘Indian.’

A woman who described herself as Dodson’s sister told McKenna, “He’s not a chief, not technically. It’s a nickname.”

“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,” the woman told McKenna when asked why her brother was being portrayed by the Redskins and NFL as an authentic Indian Chief.

It was just days after Dodson publicly threw his support behind the team that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder made his memorable  declaration: “We’ll never change the name. It’s simple. NEVER.”

The Redskins organization declined our request for comment. An email request for comment was not returned by the NFL.

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