Common Misconceptions About Carlisle Indian School

Google Alerts inform me of “news” on the internet regarding Lone Star Dietz, most of which I ignore. Although the most recent alert was a message largely concerned with Moses Friedman, that blog contains some misconceptions that are probably widely held. Matt is understandably confused by some of the entries on Friedman’s draft card (below) but those inconsistencies aren’t the worst problems. The misconceptions I consider serious are discussed in the paragraphs that follow.

  1. He could pass off the Moses as a given name perhaps, but not Friedman, especially considering that students kept an anglicized version of their Native name.

While it is true that some students were assigned anglicized versions of their original names, my experience researching Carlisle Indian School football players has been that the Anglicized names were generally assigned to an elder in the family, often at the agency in which the family was recorded. By the time Carlisle started fielding a football team in the 1890s, there had been so much intermarriage between Indians and whites that the majority of players I researched carried the family name of a white ancestor. For a small example, I seriously doubt if any of the six Carlisle Indians who were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame carried Anglicized names, bastardized perhaps, as in the case of Guyon. Those names are:

a.     Albert Exendine (may have originally been Oxendine)

b.    Joe Guyon (probably Guion originally)

c.     James Johnson

d.    Ed Rogers

e.    Jim Thorpe

f.      Gus Welch

Had Friedman’s father married an Indian woman, he could easily been named Moses Friedman, although I am unaware of any evidence that indicates that he has Indian heritage. The point is that his name said nothing, one way or the other, about whether he had Indian heritage or not. Another point is that the Anglicized versions that are known for these men, Bright Path (Jim Thorpe) for one, are nothing like the names they were known by at Carlisle.

  1. My initial thoughts were of Lone Star Dietz, but why would he attempt to pass himself off as Indian with such a German sounding name?

As shown by the sample of European names above, by the 1890s a mixed-blood Indian could carry almost any European surname. Germans may have intermarried less than the French, English and Irish, but surely some did. Having the last name of Dietz (or Deitz as his father spelled it), is probably the weakest argument against him.

  1. However, Native-Americans were not exempt from the draft, …

Non-citizen Indians were exempt from the draft, but citizens weren’t. Indians as a group weren’t granted citizenship until after WWI, so most were not required to serve. However, the fact that so many volunteered and served with distinction speaks well for their bravery and patriotism. A significant number even went to Canada to enlist before the U. S. entered the war.

  1. As an aside, even though I have his date of birth I cannot find any Moses Friedman born in America, let alone Cincinatti [sic], on that date or even in 1874!

It was not unusual at all for births not to be recorded at that time. My own paternal grandmother had no birth certificate and she was born over a decade later.

Friedman’s draft registration is surely confusing, most likely because he was confused. As to why he would check the white box for race and also check the citizen box for Indian: my guess is that, knowing people of any race could be citizens or non-citizens, he ignored the Indian heading when he checked the citizen box. I am unaware of any attempt by Friedman to claim Indian heritage.

A look at his then current employment might shed some light as to why he put Carlisle as his permanent address. He was then doing “special work as stockman for NY Supreme Court” in Taos, NM. After resigning from his position as Superintendent of Carlisle Indian School and being acquitted in Federal Court, Friedman was probably taking any work he could get. His work in Taos sounds like it was temporary and Friedman may have had as yet established a permanent location after leaving Carlisle.



10 Responses to “Common Misconceptions About Carlisle Indian School”

  1. Matt Bentley Says:

    Hello Tom.

    Can I firstly say that I thoroughly enjoyed your book on Lone Star Dietz, it being one of the first books I read when starting on my research project and sits proudly on my book shelf. It is great to enter into conversation with you.
    Secondly, although it does not explain the inconsistencies in my e-mail to Barbara, it was crafted in a matter of minutes. It was obviously originally written without the idea it would appear on the internet one day. It was merely intended to be a muse on the confusing nature of Friedman’s draft card, not a outright explanation of the reasoning behind Friedman’s actions.

    Concerning my writing on the anglicized names you are absolutly correct. Whilst some students did have anglicized names, many did not. My line of thought here was that Friedman does not sound particularly Indian. Someone who attempts to pass themselves off as Indian would sometimes assumes a stereotypical sounding Indian name. One just has to think of Iron Eyes Cody, of Italian descent. Whilst it is also definitely true that a Native person could be called Moses Friedman in this case it is false.

    You mention my referring to Lone Star Dietz’s German sounding name as the weakest argument against him. In my original sentence I was referring to the idea that Friedman, not Dietz, possessed a German sounding name. Sorry for any confusion concerning this. As for it being German-sounding, your previous point about intermarriage is still applicable in this case – it does not prove he is 100% not Indian, as you point out.

    In the section concerning the draft my point was that if he was trying to avoid the draft there would be no point in ticking Indian citizen box as you would still be drafted. I was fully aware that non-citizen Indians were exempt from the draft – again, I try to explain this by the speed at which I wrote the original e-mail. Apologies all around once again! However, you are correct in stating that some Natives fought for the United States during the First World War – the example of Carlisle alumni Gus Welch readily springs to mind. Friedman himself, as shown in the Congressional Hearings, was portrayed as a cowardly man who was not able to stand up to students and assert his authority. If he did attempt to skip the draft it would not surprise me at all.

    My mentioning of Friedman’s lack of birth certificate was an exclamation of frustration at the lack of evidence surrounding his life! There is no record of him in the census before 1900 or after 1910. As you correctly point out, record-keeping was far from perfect during this period. It’s just so frustrating when trying to get into someone’s mindset to have so little information on their childhood and upbringing. However, on my next trip to America (I live in England and am a poor penniless student, hence the rare and extremely valuable trips to America) I intend to take this avenue of investigation further.
    Whilst it is possible that Friedman misunderstood the concept of ticking the citizen box it could also be argued that he fully understood what he was doing and that it was a sign of support on a document where it would make little difference. However, both arguments are valid and we might never know what was in Friedman’s mind when he filled in the form. I wasn’t declaring this as the absolute truth, merely suggesting it as a possibility.

    Friedman’s work in New Mexico was Superintendent of the Anchor Ranch School for Defective Boys.(!) Whilst it might have been only a temporary position he had been in the position since 1915 and would continue to do so until 1921 when he moved to Pocono Pines, PA. I am unaware of whether he kept a property in Carlisle after his dismissal but the evidence seems to suggest he did not. I have been in contact with the local historical society and they have little evidence concerning the school and a Moses Friedman living in Taos at that time. Anchor Ranch is now part of the Los Alamos military base.

    As of interest to you, my research project is focusing on masculinity at the Carlisle school, of which the football team is a significant aspect. I would love to contact you further, maybe somewhere slightly less public (e-mail?), and pick your brains over the Carlisle team.

    Matt Bentley

    • tombenjey Says:

      Hi Matt,

      My first question is, how did you acquire my book in the UK? It’s great to know that people who live there can get it, but I have made no attempt to market it there. My assumption has been that few people outside the US would have any interest in my books.

      I haven’t studied Friedman at all but doubt that he was trying to evade the draft. At 44, he was unlikely to get called and if he did it would likely be in a safe rear echelon position. I used to work with an expert at rooting out fraud and theft whose opinion that considerably more money is lost by companies to laziness and incompetence than to theft. So, I always look first to stupidity and confusion as possible reasons for inaccuracies in records. Government forms are often the culprit – remember the butterfly ballot. I fail to see a place on that form for a non-Indian to indicate whether he is a citizen or not? I do see that, after seeing those boxes, many non-Indians might think they needed to indicate their citizenship status. Friedman was probably fully aware that citizen Indians were eligible for the draft and would know that indicating that he was a citizen, Indian or otherwise, would not have helped him to evade the draft.

      I am not defending Friedman as I know too little about him to know if he wanted to serve or not.

      As to his permanent address, from what little I know about his career, he tended to live in government housing as he did at Carlisle and was likely doing at Anchor Ranch. He probably didn’t own property anywhere to give himself a permanent address. On a personal note, I came to Pennsylvania in the summer of 1976 to work on a 3-month project and live there still. His job may not have been permanent but continued for a long period of time. College professors sometimes teach at a school 20 or more years without considering it their permanent location and leave as soon as they retire. It’s hard to know what someone was thinking.

      It seems to me that if Friedman was claiming to be Indian he would have done so at other times, not just when filling out his draft registration. Have you found any record of him making such claims, such as in newspaper interviews?

      The paucity of records, birth and otherwise, is one of the challenges with which we must deal. It was a major challenge for my second book because I was dealing with so many different people.

      Feel free to contact me at about the football team or anything else.


  2. Matt Bentley Says:

    Hi. Thanks for the reply – it is always good to meet someone as interested in the Carlisle Football team as I am!
    All of your books are readily available in the UK via Some are selling it at quite a low price. I’m not sure how many they sell – I suspect I might be one of the few people in this country who own a copy! American Football is hardly a popular sport in the UK, the idea of Native Americans playing Football even less. Sadly, the common perception of Native-Americans in this country comes from Westerns. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to explain that Natives don’t necessarily live in teepees and spend all their time war-whooping and firing arrows!
    I suspect you might be right concerning Friedman and the draft card. However, from what I’ve discovered Friedman’s life is full of contradictions. An prominent example I discovered whilst in Carlisle is that even though the students referred to him as a ‘Dirty Jew’ during the Congressional Investigation he had actually been christened in 1912. It seems that no one was aware of his christianity, even the staff referring to his ‘Jewishness.’ He spends the majority of the hearings blaming others for the problems of the school and refuses to take responsibility for the state of the school. His actions seem solely geared to the protection of his public image. The problem with finding out whether he has claimed to be Indian before is that the 1910 census is the only record of his existence. He disappears from the public media following his disgrace after the hearings. He might have done it before but it is difficult to determine. However, I think you are probably right. Would Friedman have known he was destined to work behind the lines? He might have been scared of fighting on the front line considering the amount of deaths.
    Concerning his address, if he was only at a temporary address wherever he went it does not explain why he wrote Carlisle as his home address. He had not lived there for 3 years at this point.
    Perhaps you could help me concerning sources. I have only visited Carlisle for two weeks and spent most of it reading the Congressional Hearings. Sadly, in this country we only have Harper’s Weekly, an invaluable source of Walter Camp and Caspar Whitney writings. Any help you could provide on sources and their locations would be invaluable.

    Matt Bentley

  3. tombenjey Says:

    Sometimes relevant articles can be found in The New York Times archives are also helpful sometimes. Universities sometimes have ProQuest available for patrons of their libraries. I have no idea if Friedman’s papers went to some archive. Pratt’s are at Yale and might include something about Friedman. can be useful but you have probably looked through that stuff already.

    Google have scanned a number of books that may be helpful. Don’t forget them. is often useful. Records of every institution with which he was affiliated could be treasure troves if you can find them. Local newspapers from the towns in which he lived and worked cab sometimes provide more information about what was going on in his life.

    Good luck. If this was easy, millions of people would be doing it.


  4. Sharon Miller Says:

    In doing research on William J. and George P. Gardner of the Carlisle Indian School, I came across your site. I’m trying to find pictures of both William J. and George P. Gardner and haven’t had a lot of success.
    George P. was my grandmother’s 2nd husband. I recently acquired a picture of him in the 1908 Band. I think that there may have been 2 George Gardner’s who attended CIS, but I am not sure because records do not list all of the students who attended there. Do you know of any copies on line that I could look at?

    • tombenjey Says:

      Hi Sharon.

      Have you tried Richard Tritt, the photo curator at the Cumberland County Historical Society? The CCHS has an extensive collection and Richard is very helpful. Their photos aren’t on-line though. The Military History Institute also has some photos but they aren’t on-line. The chapter on William Gardner in “Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs” contains a photo of William Gardner. There is a small chance that George’s student file at the National Archives may contain photocopies of photos. It’s always worth checking with the Library of Congress. If you’d like to get in touch with one of William’s grandaughters contact me directly.


  5. Sharon Miller Says:

    Thank you so much. I have been in touch with one granddaughter but her schedule has been full and I haven’t received a picture of Wm. yet. She thought that she had sent me a picture of George, but it wasn’t him.
    I’ll probably go over to Carlisle and see what Barbara L. was talking about. There is supposed to be a lot of info on George there.

    You have a good site. Thanks again.


  6. tombenjey Says:

    Thank you for the kind words, Sharon. The University of Tulsa archives have a photo or two of William Gardner in their Albert Exendine file.


  7. Gordon Bigham Says:

    Albert Exendine is my first cousin 2x removed. His grandfather Johnson Exendine changed his name to Exendine from Oxendine.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: