Archive for November, 2009

Joe Gilman Part I

November 29, 2009

I recently received an email from Joe Gilman’s great granddaughter in response to my October 17, 2008 blog about Carlisle Indian School students working as apprentices at Ford Motor Company learning to assemble Model Ts. Those unfamiliar with Model T Fords and their assembly line might enjoy viewing this video about them:  In the early days of the Model T, one mechanic assembled an entire car by himself; in later days workmen specialized in putting on specific parts of the car. Apprentices were probably taught how to assemble the entire car to allow them to work at any position on the assembly line.

Because Joe wasn’t a football star at Carlisle, his biography doesn’t neatly fit into one of my books. However, it is interesting and deserves to be told. So, I am serializing a shortened version of his story beginning with today’s blog.

Joe Gilman’s name first appears on the 1901 census of the Leech Lake Pillager band of the Chippewa as the 9-year-old son of Pah Dway We Dung. That fact that no father was listed implies that his father was dead or not of that tribe. His having an English name and his mother having a Chippewa name implies that his father was a white man. Later censuses classified Joe as being half-blood but that is inconclusive because the other half need not be a white man. It could also be a man from another tribe. Searching on his mother’s name revealed entries for 1895-97 that listed Pah Dway We Dung as having a son named Joe with no family name. The 1898 census listed her as having a son named May Quom. After that her son was listed as Joe Gilman. It seems reasonable that Joe’s Chippewa name was May Quom.

Joe began being listed by himself in 1907 at age fifteen. His mother may have died at that time. Family tradition has it that she remarried sometime in Joe’s youth. His stepfather shot his dog when he was 12 or 14 causing his to run away to Minneapolis where, according to his older daughter, he danced on the streets for money.

End of Part I


Video of Chilocco Indian School

November 28, 2009

Justin Tyler Moore informs us in his comment on Chilocco Indian School that he shot a video of the school, including interiors of some buildings, and posted it on the web. You can find his video at:

From the video you can see that the buildings could be converted into a museum, resort or other worthwhile use. Thank you for posting this, Justin.

The Origin of Race

November 25, 2009

The March 1881 edition, only the ninth, of Carlisle Indian School’s first newspaper, Eadle Keatah Toh, contained the following article on the origin of race:


An Indian Tradition.

Among one of the south-western tribes of Indians there is a tradition that long ago there were in the world only three men, who were all black. Once as they journeyed together they came to a deep pool of beautifully clear water. Here they halted, and one of them plunged into the water, from which he came out no longer black, but white. Seeing this the second man followed his example but the pool was so clouded that he emerged neither black nor white but a brownish red. The last man feared more than ever when he saw how dark the water had become so he timidly touched it only with the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, which were thus made a little lighter color. So from this time on there were three races, the white man, the Indian and the Negro.

After this the three men journeyed still farther until they reached a place where three packages were lying. The white man caught up the first which contained books and paper and pens. The Indian was quite satisfied with the bows and arrows of the second, while for the poor black man who held back timorously as before, nothing was left but the hoe and the ax, and thus concludes the tradition, did the white man become a scholar, the Indian a hunter, and the Negro a slave.

This piece raises a lot of questions. It would be useful to know more about its origin.



November 21, 2009

The Carlisle Indians played the Manhattan YMCA in football on November 28, 1895 not 1891 as reported in the blog of November 16. The reason for the error is that Newspaper Archive indexed the New York Times for November 28, 1895 as being for November 28, 1891. I blindly accepted their data as being accurate without checking for myself. I discovered the error when trying to find an article covering the game. Unable to find one, I noticed that the date on the paper did not agree with the index. I will be more careful in the future.

Redskins Can Keep Their Trademark

November 18, 2009

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal of the Washington federal appeals court decision that ruled that the Native American appellants had waited too long to claim that the Redskins trademark was racist. This decision is expected to allow the Redskins to retain trademark protection for their team name. Seventeen years ago, seven activists filed papers to have the Redskins stripped of trademark protection because, in their view, the name is racist and offensive. The activists had success early in the process but lost at the two highest levels. Further attempts with possibly different appellants are expected.

Smithsonian Linguist Emeritus Ives Goddard spent several months researching the term “redskins” and found it had a benign origin. He found that the term was coined long ago by American Indians to differentiate themselves from white and black people. The offensive meaning claimed by the activists appears to have been coined in the 1960s.

The Boston NFL team was renamed Redskins in 1933 to honor its new head coach, Lone Star Dietz. Dietz’s central role in this controversy has brought his heritage to come under much scrutiny decades after his death.

Carlisle Indians Played Football in 1891!

November 16, 2009

While researching Frank Lone Star for my upcoming book, Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, I came across a piece in the November 4, 1892 issue of The Indian Helper, in which Frank’s older brother, John Lone Star, had joined a newly organized football team called the Rovers. This, of course, piqued my interest, so I looked further. The November 25 issue reported that the Rovers had lost to the Pirates. The Pirates were described as the “Champion Foot-ball Team of the school.” From that I gathered that the Rovers and Pirates were intra-mural teams of some sort. It also mentioned that the Pirates’ trainer (coach in modern parlance) was Benjamin Caswell. In 1894, Caswell would captain the school’s football team, the first one to play a full schedule.

The article also reported that the Pirates also defeated the “School Team on Saturday, by a score of 16 to 10.” In his memoir, Superintendent Pratt wrote that interscholastic football at Carlisle had been banned in 1890 and not reinstated until 1893. So, why would there have been a school team?

But the Rovers weren’t through for the year. They beat Martin Archiquette’s team 22 to 8 on Thanksgiving Day. One can only assume that Archiquette’s team was another intra-mural team. The Pirates weren’t through either. On the following Saturday, they lost to the Regulars. What did that name mean? Were they just regular guys or were they the team that represented the school?

Curious, I delved a little deeper. On November 13, 1891, The Indian Helper stated, “They say we are to have a foot-ball team. The ball is already here.” That could have been just some gossip. Of course the school had a ball because the boys were already playing among themselves. A little ad in the November 28 New York Times told me that there was more to it.

1891-11-28 Carlisle vs NY YMCA

Was Pratt’s memory faulty? Was this a one-off game against a foe who promised to play cleanly? After all, it was a Christian organization. More research will be needed to discover the truth.

New Jim Thorpe Documentary

November 12, 2009

A new documentary about Jim Thorpe has been released and is playing on some PBS stations. Moira Productions announced that Jim Thorpe: The World’s Greatest Athlete has been finished and is available for viewing. The film appears to largely be the work of Tom Weidlinger (producer, director, writer) and Joesph Bruchac (producer, writer). There were rumors that James McGowan was involved with the film but his name is not listed in its credits on

Bruchac has written books about Jim Thorpe and is thus probably the lead writer on this documentary. He tends to write in the first person as if Thorpe, who he probably never met, is telling the story himself. A brief excerpt from the first chapter of Jim Thorpe: Original All-American states that young Jim was called stupid, something he disliked:

     Stupid. That was what the teacher called me. And not just one teacher, either.

     Stupid. I hated that name. That was one of the worst ones. Not the very worst, but close. It hurt so much because I wondered if it was true.

Stupid is not how Jim’s teacher in the Commercial Course at Carlisle, Marianne Moore, described him. Bill Crawford reported her as saying, “In the classroom he was a little laborious, but dependable; took time—head bent earnestly over the paper; wrote a fine, even clerical hand—every character legible; every terminal curving up—consistent and generous….The commercial students, about thirty, were an ideal group. Among them were James Thorpe, Gus Welch, and Iva Miller…They were my salvation, open-minded, also intelligent.”

 The Balenti brothers, who were among the brightest students at the school, sometimes made fun of Jim. However, being less intelligent than them doesn’t mean he was stupid.

Moira Productions’ website lists the TV schedule for the 1-hour documentary:

The listing implies that it shows at 5:30p.m. Sunday on WITF’s HD channel only, but Comcast’s website lists it as showing on both channels 004 and 240. That implies that it will also be broadcast on the regular WITF channel as well.

Removal of Jim Thorpe’s Remains

November 9, 2009

Both AP and UPI wire services report that Jim Thorpe’s sons plan on suing the Borough of Jim Thorpe, PA to have his remains removed from the town that now bears his name to the graveyard near Shawnee, OK in which Thorpe’s father and other relatives are buried. Jim’s youngest son, Jack, is quoted as saying, “According to Sac and Fox tradition, Dad’s soul will never be at peace until his body is laid to rest, after an appropriate ceremony, back here in his home. Until then, his soul is doomed to wander. We must have him back.”

According to the UPI, Thorpe wanted to be buried in the Oklahoma cemetery with his relatives but, at the time of his death, his family didn’t have the resources to build what his widow thought to be a proper monument to her late husband and the governor of Oklahoma declined to provide to necessary funding. Mrs. Thorpe then negotiated an arrangement in which the boroughs of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, two towns in which Big Jim never set foot, would merge and be renamed after the football star. They were also to build an appropriate monument. According to all accounts both sides lived up to the agreement, but the expected tourist interest never materialized.

The attorney representing the Thorpe family plans to file a law suit in Federal Court in Philadelphia later this month under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. That act requires that federal agencies and institutions that get federal funding return American Indian remains to their families or tribes. I suspect that this law was intended to deal with bones and artifacts that graverobbers sold or gave to museums, schools or government agencies, not for agreements freely entered into. This is a tough case because there are no bad guys. The question I have is: who would suffer most if his remains are not returned to the family? Perhaps Bob Wheeler, the author of the definitive Jim Thorpe biography, can shed more light on this.

Carlisle’s Most Outstanding Victories

November 5, 2009

Pop Warner listed what he thought were Carlisle’s most outstanding victories in a 1951 letter to Babe Weyand. Note that his list includes only those games he coached, but it is probably fair to him to include only games he saw in person. Here is Warner’s list:

1899   Carlisle 26 – Penn 6            only game Penn lost this year

1899   Carlisle 45 – Columbia 0       Columbia had beaten Yale, Army and Dartmouth

1899   Carlisle 2 – California 0         Calif. Was Pacific Coast champions, unbeaten and unscored on 

1903   Carlisle 28 – Northwestern 0  only game Northwestern lost that year

1907   Carlisle 26 – Penn 6             only game Penn lost

1907   Carlisle 18 – Chicago 4         Chicago was Big Ten champion

1913   Carlisle 13 – Dartmouth 10     only game Dartmouth lost

I find it curious that Warner included neither win over Harvard and he was on the winning end of both of those contests.

Winneshiek’s Return to Carlisle

November 3, 2009

William Phineas Winneshiek, Winnebago from Hatfield, Wisconsin, wasn’t a star football player at Carlisle but surely had friends that were. He probably played on a shop team or for the band, because he was a musician. After leaving Carlisle in 1915, he played semi-pro football for the Altoona Indians and, in 1916, assisted fellow Altoona Indian and musician, Joel Wheelock, coach the Lebanon Valley College team. In 1922 he played in the NFL for the Oorang Indians. However, music was where he made his living. A website maintained by his grandson includes photos of Winneshiek:

On December 11, 1936, Bill Winneshiek, who was then known as Chief Winneshiek (probably because he was descended from a hereditary chief) wrote Hugh Miller to thank him for giving him some photographs of the Indian School. He also expressed his feelings about what he saw on his recent visit to the old school:

Mr. Miller, I know that you are one of the few White men living that will realize fully the great injustice that was brought upon the Indian Race when Our Great Democratic Government decided to: “Take Away From The Redman The Last Remaining Treasure (Carlisle Indian School) He Had in U. S. A.

Buildings had been burned down; complete destruction of the tall smokestack, which once answered the purpose of a monument; The Campus , which was once the pride of all who saw it for it was kept always in its natural beauty by the Indian students had faded into an unkept meadow; Our school mates who had been called by the Great Spirit and laid at rest near the Athletic Field, had been disturbed and moved to a more lonelier spot by the soldiers who now inhabit the Grounds where the American Indian made his last stand. No Government, no Race of People could have been more Cruel, No Christians, whether they be White, Yellow, Brown, Black or Red, could forget Providence long enough to commit that one last barbarous act as when Carlisle Indian School was taken from the Red Man. The saddest thing that has yet befallen the Indian.