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To Show What an Indian Can Do: Sports at Native American Boarding Schools

John Bloom
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    To Show What an Indian Can Do
    Book Description:

    To Show What an Indian Can Do explores the history of sports programs at Native American boarding schools and, drawing on the recollections of former students, describes the importance of competitive sport in their lives. John Bloom focuses on the students who did not typically go on to greater athletic glory but who found in sports something otherwise denied them at boarding school: a sense of community, accomplishment, and dignity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9194-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxii)

    In October 1997 Grace Thorpe arrived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with a petition in her hand. Most often, when she is engaged in political activism of this nature, Thorpe is rallying to protect the environment from nuclear waste. But this time she was involved in a different cause. She had come to this central Pennsylvania town to collect signatures to endorse her father, the great Jim Thorpe, as the century’s greatest athlete. Indeed, there have been few other athletes who have come close to accomplishing what Jim Thorpe was able to do in his athletic life: He won gold medals in...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Native American Athletics and Assimilation
    (pp. 1-30)

    Athletic contests, teams, and games existed at Indian boarding schools on a level of symbolic activity that was no less important than the day-today work and teaching that was done at these institutions. Politicians, clergy, journalists, and boarding school administrators fiercely debated their meaning and role in boarding school life. As the quotations from Carlisle Indian School founder Richard Henry Pratt suggest, these debates even took place within the minds of a single individual. Each representation of sports reveals conflicts over racial ideology, assimilation, exploitation, violence, sexuality, and the meaning of success. At first glance, sports at federal Indian boarding...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Struggle over the Meaning of Sports
    (pp. 31-50)

    In January 1900 the Phoenix Indian School’s newspaper, theNative American,reported that the Carlisle football team had stopped at the school on New Year’s Eve by special invitation on their return east from a game against the University of California. Phoenix and Carlisle played a game on New Year’s Day. TheNative American,which regularly published scores and stories about Carlisle football games, on January 13, 1900, characterized it as a lopsided victory for Carlisle: “Of course our team was out of sight with the Carlisle giants, but their coach did see five among our players whom he would...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The 1930s and Pan-Indian Pride
    (pp. 51-76)

    Jeff McCloud, a social worker in Minneapolis, attended a boarding school during the late 1960s, fifty years after Carlisle closed and forty years after the Haskell homecoming, yet his insights into the importance of the pride gained from athletic teams have applied to many subjugated groups for much of the past 120 years. Just as the loyalties that sports create might work in the service of prevailing national narratives, they can also be a powerful expression of alternative narratives and identities for groups who do not find their points of view reflected in dominant representations. In combat and victory, Native...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Female Physical Fitness, Sexuality, and Pleasure
    (pp. 77-96)

    During a set of interviews I conducted with Navajo women who attended Indian boarding schools, I learned, somewhat predictably, that girls who attended these institutions did not have as many opportunities to participate in sports as boys. This was no surprise because between 1930 and 1973 it was generally the practice in U. S. schools to offer women very few chances to play on athletic teams or to play competitively (Cahn 1993). When I asked the two women (in separate interviews) why they were not able to play on teams, I expected them to say that school administrators would not...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Narratives of Boarding School Life
    (pp. 97-122)

    Early on in my writing about sports at federally operated boarding schools for Native Americans, I decided to include oral history interviews with former students as a primary resource. The previous chapters have illustrated how boarding school students generated meanings from athletics, meanings that often differed from and even ran counter to the intentions of boarding school promoters, social reformers, and journalists. This is what I had hoped to learn by listening to the ways that former students remembered sports.

    Even before I ever conducted an oral history interview, I had a sense that sports were an important part of...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 123-130)

    In June 1993 the Associated Press in newspapers around the nation (e.g., “Garagiola Bats .400 with Tribe’s Children,” in theArizona Republic) reported that Joe Garagiola had become the savior of baseball on the Zuni Pueblo in western New Mexico. After hearing that the Zunis had almost no equipment for their kids’ baseball teams, the former major league catcher and broadcaster swept into action, collecting donations, purchasing equipment, and personally delivering it to the reservation about sixty miles south-southwest of Gallup, a place that Garagiola described as “not exactly the crossroads of the world.” Garagiola was also able to secure...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 131-136)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 137-144)
  13. Index
    (pp. 145-151)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 152-152)
  15. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)