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To Show What an Indian Can Do

Sports at Native American Boarding Schools

2005
Author:

John Bloom

To Show What an Indian Can Do

A compelling and inspiring account of Native American student athletes—now available in paperback!

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.

To Show What an Indian Can Do is a good book that gives strong consideration to a theory that really speaks to the resilience and resolve of Indian boarding school students and their capacity to survive as Indians despite strong, persistent attempts to the contrary.

Wicazo Sa Review

Between 1899 and 1917, the football team of Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian School rose to national prominence, competing—and winning—against the country’s most formidable programs: Harvard, Army, and Pennsylvania. Under Carlisle’s legendary coach, Glenn "Pop" Warner, players such as Gus Welch, William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz, and most notably Jim Thorpe—perhaps the century’s greatest athlete—became household names. Together with other athletes, including Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Charles Albert "Chief" Bender and distance runner Louis Tewanima, they helped change the country’s attitudes toward Native Americans.

The Carlisle Indian School and the Haskell Institute in Kansas were among the many federally operated boarding schools enacting the U.S. government’s education policy toward Native Americans from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, one designed to remove children from familiar surroundings and impose mainstream American culture upon them. To Show What an Indian Can Do explores the history of sports programs at these institutions and, drawing on the recollections of former students, describes the importance of competitive sport in their lives. Author John Bloom focuses on the male and female students who did not typically go on to greater athletic glory but who found in sports something otherwise denied them by the boarding school program: a sense of community, accomplishment, and dignity.

To Show What an Indian Can Do

John Bloom is author of A House of Cards: Baseball Card Collecting and Popular Culture (Minnesota, 1997).

To Show What an Indian Can Do

To Show What an Indian Can Do is a good book that gives strong consideration to a theory that really speaks to the resilience and resolve of Indian boarding school students and their capacity to survive as Indians despite strong, persistent attempts to the contrary.

Wicazo Sa Review

This well-written exploration of sports at Native American boarding schools reveals the dizzying complexity of culture and intramural school sports from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Bloom’s reflective arguments, attention to detail, and conscious discord succeed in communicating the delicate intricacies of identity for the men and women who experienced Native American boarding school sports culture.

MultiCultural Review

In this brief but engaging work on sports in the Indian schools between the 1870s and the 1930s, John Bloom offers a compelling and fresh analysis of an aspect of Indian education that was deeply laden with meaning yet little understood. I strongly recommend this book. It is well written, provocative, and rich in historical detail.

American Studies

John Bloom explores a previously neglected area of study relating to the experience of students in the federally operated Indian boarding schools—competitive sports. Bloom employs a multidisciplinary approach in his study of sports at the Indian boarding schools. He has done a substantial amount of research and presents journalistic, psychological and sociological evidence and rationales in explaining the perceptions and impact of sports among Indian and white populations.

North Dakota History

Bloom’s work adds detail to the accumulation of knowledge regarding Bureau of Indian Affairs’ schools and the students who attended. The narrative that develops provides color and depth to the work and increases the interest of the reader.

History of Education Quarterly

To Show What an Indian Can Do

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Native American Athletics and Assimilation
2. The Struggle over the Meaning of Sports
3. The 1930s and Pan-Indian Pride
4. Female Physical Fitness, Sexuality, and Pleasure
5. Narratives of Boarding School Life

Conclusion
Notes
Works Cited

Index