Archive for the ‘Sampson Bird’ Category

Carlisle Players in 1901 Spalding’s Guide

June 12, 2012

While preparing the 1901 Spalding’s Guide for printing, I noticed that some future Carlisle players could be found in two photos on page 167. The first photo was of the 1900 Haskell Institute team but was mislabeled as being “Haskell Indian College,” in much the same way as Carlisle Indian Industrial School was often referred to as Carlisle College. Perhaps the whites who elevated these government Indian schools to collegiate status felt embarrassed that the Carlisle and Haskell Indians routinely defeated teams from the elite schools with players who had less education, money or experience playing football.

The first names to register with me were Archiquette and Guyon. I already knew that Chauncey Archiquette, captain of the 1900 Haskell team had played for Carlisle prior to coming to Haskell. He again played for Carlisle after returning from Haskell a few years later. I also knew that Charles Guyon played for Carlisle after enrolling there in 1905. However, as a joke, he went by the name Wahoo.

The list of players’ names under the photo included some other familiar ones but they weren’t Carlisle stars; they were Haskell players who battled against Carlisle in the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair game and later transferred to the eastern school. Steckbeck identified DuBois as another Haskell player who transferred to Carlisle along with several others who were on the 1904 team but not on the 1900 team. However, there were some players on the 1900 Haskell team that were also on the 1904 edition: Oliver, Felix, and Payer (or Payor).

Immediately below the Haskell photo is the Fort Shaw Indian School team photo. The person sitting in the first row, far left is Burd. Sampson Bird, captain of the great 1911 Carlisle team attended the Fort Shaw school before coming east, so this is probably him in the photo. An Indian agent probably spelled the name with a “U” instead of an “I” because the Burd family name was known to many.

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Sam Bird’s Great Granddaughter

December 13, 2011

I’m often asked what life was like after Carlisle for former students. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs discusses what life held for 50 star football players, most of whom had children and grandchildren. Now, I’m learning more about their descendants. Recently, I received word that Sam Bird’s great granddaughter, Denise Juneau, is running for re-election for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Montana. She is the first American Indian to hold a statewide executive position in Montana. Sam Bird promoted education for his children and grandchildren. Denise is a product of his efforts.

Sam Bird was captain on the great 1911 Carlisle Indian School football team. After leaving Carlisle, Sam returned home to Browning, Montana where he ran the family ranching operation, married a Carlise girl, and raised a family. Sam’s daughter, Margie, married a man named Juneau and had a son named Stan. Stan married Carol Cross. Denis is their daughter.

The other side of Denise’s family (Carol Cross Juneau’s family) is from the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota.  Carol’s Grandfather, Denise’s Great Grandfather, name was Old Dog and he was the last traditional chief of the Hidatsa.  Carol’s father, Denise’s grandfather, name was Martin Old Dog Cross and he was a member of the elected tribal council for more than 20 years and its chairman for 10 of those years.  He led the fight against building the Garrison Dam that flooded their reservation, their homeland, and more acres that it was supposed to.  Carol’s Brother, Ramon, was the lawyer who fought the Army Corp of Engineers many years later and, with the Supreme Court ruling in his favor, received a nice settlement for the Tribe. Coyote Warrior by Paul Vandevelder is a history of the family and also of the Supreme Court decision. 

It’s not hard to see how Denise Juneau has achieved so much after seeing her bloodlines.

100th Anniversary of carlisle’s Great victory

November 12, 2011

100 years ago on November 11, 1911, Carlisle achieved perhaps its greatest victory when the Indians defeated the Harvard Crimson 18-15 at Cambridge. This game is also considered to be Jim Thorpe’s greatest and one of the best games ever played in the annals of football.

Newspaper articles in the days leading up to the game, reported that Harvard Coach Percy Haughton planned to start his second team to wear down the Indians, who were known to make few substitutions, and put his first team in later in the game to finish off the exhausted Indians. So confidant in his strategy was Haughton that he didn’t bother attending the game. Instead, he spent the day in New Haven, CT scouting Yale for the upcoming rivalry game. Warner was confident about his team’s chances even though he said Captain Sampson Bird and tackle Bill Newashe would probably be unable to play because of injuries but he said nothing about Jim Thorpe’s leg and ankle.

Prior to the game, Warner bandaged his star tailback’s leg and swollen right ankle so that he could play, even if he couldn’t run at full speed and cut to escape would-be tacklers. Warner kept Thorpe’s condition a secret as part of his game strategy. Knowing that Harvard would be keying on his All America halfback, Warner used him mostly as a decoy who blocked for the person who was actually carrying the ball. A well-run single-wing offense, with all its fakes, makes it difficult to determine who has the ball. Guessing that Thorpe had it wasn’t a winning strategy for Harvard’s defense that day. Newashe was able to start but couldn’t finish the game as Hugh Wheelock substituted for him later in the game. Thorpe was eventually replaced by Eloy Sousa but not until his damage was done.

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Hall of Fame for the Birds

March 9, 2009

While we wait for the College Football Hall of Fame to properly acknowledge Lone Star Dietz’s contributions to the game, his old teammate and 1911 team captain, Sampson Bird, was inducted into the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. On December 12, Sampson Bird was one of 16 inductees in just the second class of the Hall of Fame. Sam Bird, Blackfeet, was the captain of Carlisle’s greatest team. His 1911 squad went 11-1, defeating both Harvard and Penn, two of the day’s greatest football powers. Two future College Football Hall of Famers, Jim Thorpe and Gus Welch, played alongside Sam, but he was elected captain for his leadership abilities. Quiet but stalwart, he led the Indians to their greatest height. Sam starred in other sports but it was in football that he made the greatest impact. Because of his versatility he was inducted as an all-around athlete rather than for a specific sport.

Sampson Bird was previously inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. Some have asked about what happened to Indians’ athletic ability since 1930. Samson Bird’s life provides part of the answer. After finishing at Carlisle, Sam and his bride, a fellow Carlisle student, Margaret Burgess, Tlinget/Haida, returned to his family’s ranch in Montana where they raised their large family. Sam was a working cowboy as were his children. His grandchildren and great grandchildren, boys and girls alike, put their athletic abilities on display as modern-day rodeo stars. Sam’s athleticism can be seen as his descendants compete in the Indian Nation Finals Rodeo. Even their horses win prizes!

Also inducted into the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame with Sampson Bird was Sam Bird Jr. The apples have indeed fallen closely to the tree.

More on Indian Sports Leadership

September 5, 2008

Yesterday’s email brought a curious announcement. I am going to receive a free, signed copy of a new book to be released soon. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz, about which I know nothing, was looking for humorous bathroom graffiti. I sent in my all-time favorite from the back of the men’s room door at The Blessed Oliver Plunket, a bar/restaurant featuring live entertainment located across the street from the Cumberland County Historical Society. The Plunket, as it was better known, has numerous stories to tell but I’m not the one to tell them. In the late 70s, as I was leaving the men’s room, I noticed a scribble on the door:

No sign of intelligent life…Kirk Out

Apparently that witticism has found its way into a book.

Back to Donna Newashe McAllister’s question…

I expected that more people would comment on this and would like to see more myself. So, I’ll share some of my thoughts.

My wife and I have discussed this issue to some degree and I think it is an issue with multiple facets. First, I’m not so sure that American Indian athletes have necessarily declined. Judging today’s athletes with those who were at the Carlisle Indian School may not be fair. Those guys were world-class athletes coached by one of the most innovative coaches of all time. Pop Warner is criticized much today but few question his knowledge or his ability to coach football. During its heyday, Haskell had fine athletes and was led by Dick Hanley, Lone Star Dietz and Gus Welch, all of whom were excellent coaches. Dietz belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame. Neither Haskell nor the tribal colleges can afford to hire coaches of their caliber today.

Bob Wheeler tells me that Bill Thorpe shoots better than his age, 80, in golf. To compare anyone with Jim Thorpe is unfair. He was the greatest athlete of all time and could do anything well. I can’t imagine how he could be competitive in the pole vault, but he was. Sam Bird’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren are big in the rodeo. Some of the others didn’t have children and many settled off the reservation. For example, Joe Guyon was a big star at Carlisle, Georgia Tech and in the NFL where Joe Guyon, Jr. played for Catholic University.

But you seem to be focused more on leadership than on athletic ability. It appears to me that many of the better leaders did not return to the reservation after finishing at Carlisle or Haskell. Several were officers in WWI and were leaders in the service but didn’t return to lead their tribes. Some kept one foot in each world and their children found more opportunity in white society. For example, Thomas St. Germain’s son, grandson and great-grandson were/are renowned research physicians at Tulane University School of Medicine.

It may be that Indians are playing leadership roles individually but not together as a group. MANY of the Carlisle players went into coaching but Dietz, Exendine and Welch were about the only ones who made it their life’s work. Coaching was an even more precarious occupation then than now and only the best schools paid well. So, most devoted their considerable talents to other occupations. Even Exendine and Welch practiced law in the off-season.

Surely, other people have some insight into this issue.

1912 Olympics – Part IV

August 11, 2008

Thorpe received a lot of hype, even before dominating the Pentathlon tryouts. One such example is shown below. As coach of the Carlisle track team, Pop Warner placed himself in charge of Thorpe’s and Tewanima’s training for the Olympics. As part of their training regime he had them sit out most of the school’s spring meets. So, for the first time in several years, a team other than Carlisle won the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s track meet held on Hargest’s Island (today’s City Island) at Harrisburg. Thorpe did not attend the meet but Tewanima made an appearance. He ran 18 miles from the Indian School to Hargest’s Island, arrived at the field when the 2-mile run was underway. According to the report in The Carlisle Arrow, “he circled the field amid the cheers and applause of’ nearly everyone on theground. Tewanima made the eighteen-mile run in a little less than one hour and fifty minutes and seemed fresh at the finish and able go many more miles.”

 

Thorpe’s absence gave others an opportunity to shine. Bruce Goesback placed 1st in the 220 hurdles, 3rd in the 120 hurdles, 4th in broad jump and high jump. Possum Powell finished 2nd in both high jump and shot put. John Squirrel was 3rd in both 440-yd dash and broad jump. Sampson Bird came in 2nd in the hammer throw and 4th in discus. Gus Welch place 2nd in the half-mile and won the 440-yd dash but was disqualified of “alleged interference” with another runner. Arthur Coons placed 3rd in pole vault, Joel Wheelock came in 4th in both hurdle events, and Blackdeer, the only distance man to score points, came in 4th in the 2-mile run.

 

Carlisle still placed second to Penn State without its Olympians and beat all other colleges in the meet.

Jim Thorpe's Physique

Jim Thorpe's Physique

 

 

 

 

Galleys Received

May 27, 2008

The advance reading copies (called ARCs in the trade) arrived for my new book and are being sent out to reviewers. This is a big moment in a writer’s life: seeing thousands of hours of hard work turned into something tangible. In the old days (pre-computer), ARCs were called galleys, bound galleys or galley proofs. Authors, editors and publishers go over these babies with a fine-tooth comb looking for errors, typos or things that have changed since writing was complete. It is an impossible task because, after all this scrutiny, some typos escape and find their way into the final book. But we try.

Another important use of ARCs is to see how the photos and artwork come out in print. Overall they came out very well, better than expected. But a cartoon about the Oorang Indians from a 1922 Baltimore newspaper is too dim. The challenge now is to figure out how to darken it without losing the detail.

This weekend I received some additional information and a correction regarding Louis Island from a family member who happened to see a previous blog. That was fortuitous because I want the book to be as accurate as possible. This blog is already proving to be of some value. That encourages me to continue with it.

Having these ARCs provides local booksellers the opportunity to provide their customers something extra. People can look at an ARC and pre-order the book if they choose. The bonus, besides being sure of getting a copy of the book as soon as it comes out, is to receive an inscription of his or her choice signed by the author. On-line booksellers also take pre-orders but personalized inscriptions are impractical.

 

 

Bird Family Rodeo Stars

May 23, 2008

People often ask what happened to the great Indian sportsmen. Carlisle produced world class athletes from the mid 1890s to WWI. Haskell picked up the mantle in the 1920s until financial cuts brought about by the Great Depression brought its competitiveness to an end. A few individuals surfaced from time to time but not with the frequency they did in the first two decades of the 20th century. Or so I thought. As it turns out we may have focused our attention in the wrong direction or too narrowly.

Apparently the Bird family holds a Memorial Day rodeo annually in honor of Sammie Bird, son of Carlisle star and captain of the great 1911 team, Sampson Bird. The avuncular Sam Bird bore the responsibility of running the family’s ranches immediately after returning from Carlisle. He looked after his children, grandchildren, siblings and their offspring.  It seems that many of the patriarch’s progeny channeled their athleticism toward rodeo competitions. A quick Internet search identified a Sam Bird, grandson of the Carlisle star, his nephew Dustin Bird, and his daughters Brittany and Sammy Jo Bird as current rodeo stars. There may be more.

It is my great hope that someone will read this, fill in the missing pieces and tell me what I have wrong. Then next year I can inform people enough ahead of the rodeo that some will be able to attend.