Like most of the interesting things I find, I unexpectedly stumbled across a November 19, 1908 Nebraska State Journal article that said the upcoming game between the Carlisle Indians and the University of Denver had been canceled. Post-season (about anything after Thanksgiving in those days) road trips were not unusual for the Indians. As early as 1896, they played a night game in the Chicago Coliseum on December 19 against that year’s Champions of the West, Wisconsin. And 1908’s trip wasn’t as long or as elaborate as some. It started early with a November 21 game against Minnesota in Minneapolis. Five days later, the opponent was St. Louis University in St. Louis. Six days after that it was Nebraska in Lincoln. Three days after that was to be the Denver game in Denver. According to the article, Denver officials were informed by Carlisle officials that the game was called off because, “…that leave of absence could not be secured for so long a journey.” The article didn’t say if it was Superintendent Friedman, who was new at his post, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Francis Leupp, or someone else. There had been recent communications with Pop Warner and he had said nothing about a cancelation. Denver didn’t take it lying down.
According to the paper, they went straight to the top: “President Roosevelt has been asked to use his influence in having a contract between representatives of Denver University and the Carlisle Indian school for a football game between the elevens of the two schools lived up to.…they at once asked the president through former United States Senator Patterson, to request that the Indians be given the leave necessary. A portion of Senator Patterson’s message reads: ‘The Denver boys want a square deal and turn to you to get It for them.’ Governor Buchtel, who is chancellor of Denver University, also wired Congressman Bonynge and Senator Teller to secure, if possible, the Intervention of Commissioner of Indian Affairs Leupp.”
I don’t know what happened next but do know that the Indians won three and lost one on the road trip. The loss was to Minnesota. The wins were over St. Louis, Nebraska and Denver.