Old Sioux Chiefs Didn’t March In 1905 Inauguration

Previously, I wrote about the Carlisle Indian School contingent that marched in the 1905 Inauguration Parade to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt’s election as President. Six great chiefs, led by Geronimo, rode on horseback in front of the Carlisle Indian School Band. I didn’t write about the others who wanted to participate in the festivities.

Over a dozen old Sioux chiefs paid their own way to travel to Washington from the Rosebud and Standing Rock Reservations “…to march in their eagle feathers and war bonnets and paint down the avenue after the great Father who once lived out in their country.” Indian Commissioner Leupp would have none of it. He would not let the inauguration be a Wild West Show, that there was no place for these red men. He said, “The Indians will be represented by the chiefs of six famous nations at one time hostile to this country. …Directly behind these old chieftains, each of whom represents a nation once at war with this country and subdued only at great loss of life, will be 350 students of the Carlisle Indian School. My object is to contrast the old Indians of the warpath and the educated, manly Indians of today.”

Leupp would not budge and the old chiefs returned to Dakota without marching in the parade. They were not greeted by President Roosevelt who clapped his hands with delight and, like the others in his box, rose to his feet when the six chiefs passed.

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