Native Americans in the 1908 Olympics

The 1908 Olympic Games were held in London, something that required Carlisle Indian School track stars Frank Mt. Pleasant and Lewis Tewanima to cross the Atlantic with the bulk of the U.S. contingent on the steamer Philadelphia. Neither arrived in the best condition. Mt. Pleasant had an injured ligament in his knee and Tewanima was suffering from sore feet and bad knees. The Hopi’s ninth place finish in the marathon was a great performance for a person who, a year prior to this, had not before worn a running shoe. He finished ahead of all the great British runners and Tom Longboat of Canada. Longboat, an Onondaga from the Six Nations reservation near Brantford, Ontario, was leading the race when he fell ill and withdrew from the race. The year before he had established himself as a world-class marathoner by winning the Boston Marathon in record time.

Frank Mt. Pleasant, Tuscarora, also competed as best he could given his condition and finished sixth in both the broad jump and triple jump. Later that summer in Paris, he and Tewanima got a chance to show their stuff in a competition with some other Olympians. Mt. Pleasant won the broad jump by defeating both Frank Irons, the Olympic champion, and Edwin Cook of Cornell, the American intercollegiate champion. Lewis Tewanima came in second in the 3-mile race.

Upon their return to the U. S. Mt. Pleasant and Tewanima visited President Roosevelt and, in New York, were presented with medals in addition to the ones they won in Europe. New Yorkers paid $3,100 for the medals they gave to the members of the Olympic team.

Frank Pierce did not compete in the 1908 Olympics because he died of pneumonia earlier in the year.

Next time we take a look at the later Olympics.

Lewis Tewanima, Hopi distance runner

Lewis Tewanima, Hopi distance runner

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: