Pretty Boy – part 4

On April 30, 1915, Thomas Hawkeagle’s request to be allowed to drop his academic work and spend all day learning and working at his trade was turned down. The reason given was that, with only two weeks of school remaining, it wouldn’t be to his advantage to miss the final examinations and likely not be promoted. On that same day, he filled out paperwork to determine his eligibility for Federal aid. Given that he was an orphan with no income, he was probably deemed eligible. He owned 320 acres of land and would inherit land from his mother, but that didn’t provide immediate income.

He may have wanted to be released from academic work early to allow him to leave for Detroit two weeks earlier than he would if he completed the school year. He may have thought the opportunity with Ford Motor Company would disappear if he didn’t take advantage of it immediately. It didn’t.

Thomas Hawkeagle and several other boys from Carlisle Indian School spent most of the spring and summer learning how to make Model Ts. After successfully completing their apprenticeship, they would be eligible to earn wages twice what other employers paid. From all accounts, he performed well and enjoyed working at the Highland Park Plant. At the start of the school year, he and the other football boys returned to school.

Hawkeagle was finally a starter on the football team, but changes made in the wake of the 1914 Congressional Inquiry deemphasized athletics and band, dooming the team to no longer be competitive at their previous level. The team’s dismal 1-3-1 record may have had something to do with his mid-season departure, but the stated reason was to return home to his ranch to “care for the stock that has recently been issued to him.” But that wasn’t the last Carlisle would hear of Thomas Hawkeagle.

Next time – Part five of Pretty Boy’s tale.

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