Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Saint O-kuh-ha-tah Part 4

November 17, 2022

The Great Depression immediately followed by World War II interrupted the mission work Oakerhater had started. It took new people moving into the area in the early 1960s to bring it back to life. An Episcopalian family advertised a religious meeting they were going to hold in their home. Seeing the ad were some Cheyennes who had known Oakerhater. They worked with the new family to revive his old mission.

Muskogee Creek scholar Lois Carter Clark researched Oakerhater’s life and works, culminating in his being designated as a saint by the Episcopal Church in 1985. The next year on September 1, the first feast held in his honor was celebrated at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Saint George Church in Dayton, Ohio dedicated a large stained glass window to him in its chapel in 2000. The tall six-sided window with pointed ends depicted him as a deacon with Cheyennes looking toward him. A smaller window featured his glyph signature.

St. Paul’s Cathedral of Oklahoma City dedicated a chapel to Oakerhater and replaced a window that was blown out by the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Preston Singletary (Tlingit) created a stained glass window featuring his glyph. The church also organized The Oakerhater Guild of St. Paul’s in partnership with Whirlwind Mission of the Holy Family.

The Whirlwind Church gained a permanent site in Watonga in 2003 and dedicated the Oakerhater Episcopal Center in 2007, which provides a place for powwows, a sweat lodge, classes, and an annual Cherokee Dance in Oakerhater’s honor.

Now a national shrine to Saint O-kuh-ha-tuh, Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse, New York held a Native-American celebration in 2005 to honor him, the first Native-American saint of the Episcopal Church. The new stained glass windows honoring him and designed by his great-granddaughter Roberta Whiteshield-Butler were dedicated in this event.

<end of part 4 of 4>

Saint O-kuh-ha-tuh part 2

October 8, 2022
Oakerhater at Fort Marion

In October 1879, David Pendleton Oakerhater, as he was then known, left New York for a time to assist Pratt in enlisting children from Indian Territory (Oklahoma today) for his former jailer’s new school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 1880 after returning from this mission, Oakerhater’s wife Nomee (Thunder Woman) died in childbirth in Paris Hill. The next year, their young son Pawwahnee died. Both were buried in the church cemetery. She had earlier bore him three daughters, all of whom had died. Along the way, he had taken a second wife Nanessan (Taking Off Dress) while married to Nomee but had divorced her by 1878. The daughter born to them had died as had his other children.

In May of 1881, Pratt petitioned the Office of Indian Affairs for the money to transport Oakerhater back to Indian Territory from where he had been taken prisoner. The government had paid the travel expenses of the other Fort Marion prisoners to return home after their incarceration was completed but the Episcopal sponsors had paid the travel expenses for the four who went to New York State. Now it was time for the government to return them to Indian Territory. Oakerhater’s reason for returning was to build Episcopal churches at the Indian agencies.

He married again in 1882 to Nahepo (Smoking Woman aka Susie Anna Bent) who took the name Susie Pendleton. Both of their children died young. She died in 1890 at 23 years of age.

In 1887, Oakerhater worked at the Episcopal mission in Bridgeport and in 1889 at the Whirlwind Mission near Fay, seventeen miles west of Watonga. Many of the Whirlwind students suffered from poverty, trachoma, and conjunctivitis. After tribal lands were broken up by the Dawes Act, families often tented near the reservation schools to be near their children and to provide a safer environment. His school and mission were under constant pressure. Locals wanting to exploit the Indians saw his mission and school as a threat and others at the national level deplored the poor conditions there.

He remarried again in 1898, this time to Minnie White Buffalo, who was 20 years younger than him. She brought with her a son from a previous marriage named Bear Raising Mischief.

Oakerhater retired with a pension in 1918 but continued to preach, serving as an Cheyenne chief and holy man. After a brief stop in Clinton, he moved to Watonga, where he lived until he died in 1931. Some of Oakerhater’s works would live on after him.

<end of part two>

Saint O-kuh-ha-tah

October 6, 2022

For about 15 years Emma Newashe’s granddaughter and I have been communicating with each other when one of us has something to share. In September1905, Emma joined her brother Bill at Carlisle Indian School. Both were orphans for whom the Sac and Fox tribe had few resources to help. Bill excelled in athletics and Emma in academics. She was a particularly good writer. This time we didn’t talk much about the Newashes. Instead we talked about a Cheyenne from Oklahoma who had been incarcerated at Fort Marion under Lt. Richard Henry Pratt.

The inmate’s childhood name was Noksowist (Bear Going Straight). His military career began at age 14 in raids against the Otoe and Missouri, for which he was initiated into the tribe’s Bowstring Society. He participated in a number of battles with the U. S. Cavalry and state militias. He is reputed to have been the youngest man to complete the sun dance ritual (Okuh hatuh in Cheyenne). After surrendering at Fort Sill to end the Red River War, he was selected by a reputedly inebriated U. S. Colonel to be one of the 72 “hostiles” sent to Fort Marion for incarceration.

Known at that time as Making Medicine, aka Oakerhater, attended classes given in a casement-turned-classroom in the fort and learned to read and write English. He soon became a leader of the younger men who were confined. At the end of two years he petitioned to have the young men released because they had given up their old ways and desired to be integrated into the majority society. The request was rejected. However, in the next year, 1878, he and the other inmates were released after three years of confinement. Episcopal deaconess Mary Douglas Burnham, who had seen the men in St. Augustine, offered to take four of them home with her. She also arranged funding from Alice Key Pendleton and her husband, Senator George Pendleton, to transport Oakerhater and his wife Nomee to St. Paul’s Church in Paris Hill, New York. There he was educated by the Reverend J. B. Wicks in agriculture, scripture and current events. After six months he was baptized and confirmed at Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse. At that time he took the Christian name of David and family name of Pendleton, in honor of his patron. Three years later, he was ordained a deacon.

<end of part one>

August Lookaround – part 5

August 30, 2022

Phebe Jewell Nichols, who had studied the Menominee extensively and had authored novels on them, taught social science at Oshkosh High School. She was also the chairman of the Indian affairs committee for the Wisconsin League of Women Voters. That fall Gus organized a Keshena football team while she remained active with the League of Women Voters. In 1935 she gave a costumed recital to open the program of the 23rd Annual Convention of the International Lyceum Association in Lakeside on Lake Erie in Ohio. She also gave readings in several cities. The American Poetry Magazine devoted its first autumn issue entirely to her works.

The 1936 edition of Indians of Today included a biography of Angus Franklin Lookaround. It stated that Gus had toured with Ringling’s Circus Band, Sells-Floto Band, and the Royal Scotch Highlanders. A 1938 anthology, Poetry Out of Wisconsin, included two of Phebe’s works, “Indian Pipe” and “Menominee Lullaby.” A month later, she released a booklet titled “Tales from an Indian Lodge,” which contained background information on the tribe and essays on the philosophy and lives of its people. In March, Angus and Phebe provided the entertainment for a special meeting of the PTA. He told Indian stories “never told to the public before” and she presented her monodrama, Something of the Indian Heart. On December 1, she began writing a weekly column for The Green Bay Press-Gazette on Indian affairs. The Appleton Post-Crescent picked up her column the next month, followed by The Sheboygan Press in September. In her February talk to the AAUW in Green Bay, she stated that prejudice was the greatest obstacle in the way of satisfactory adjustment for American Indians.

In April 1939, Angus and three other men circulated a petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for L. W. Kemnitz be named manager of Menominee Indian Mills, a million-dollar enterprise. The Menominee believed they should be granted the right to hire their own manager. Both shifts of employees at the mill had already signed the petition. Phebe gave a talk titled “The Mother of Today” to several organizations that winter and spring. In December, The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern picked up a series of Phebe’s articles on American Indian Lore.

<end of part 5>

Gus Lookaround – part 3

August 25, 2022

Gus either enrolled in or worked at Tomah Indian School after getting out of the Navy because he played on their football team. During halftime in a game at Sparta, several Sparta boys ventured onto the thin ice on Perch Lake and broke through. Being the first to notice the boys’ plight, he raced from the football field and plunged into the icy water. He grabbed them and guided them to safety. He then played the second half as if nothing had happened but his overheated body collapsed unconscious as the game ended. He was revived with no apparent ill effects. Gus played at least one game for the Green Bay Packers that year.

August Lookaround disappeared from newspapers until 1922 when Angus Lookaround appeared. Since his Carlisle application was signed by him rather than a parent, it’s fair to say he was going by that name at the time. Why he shifted from August to Angus is unknown. Perhaps because August sounded German where Angus was Scottish caused him to make the change during WWI.

Angus first appeared in print when he signed to play for the Racine, Wisconsin American Legion football team. According to the article, he captained and played quarterback for the Atlantic fleet team during the war and afterward with eastern teams such as the New Haven Stars. The description of his time at Carlisle, while not completely accurate, convinces this writer that August and Angus Lookaround were the same person. A later article stated that Gus was living in Elkhorn, employed by the Holton Band Instrument Company, and that his Menominee name was Te Powis (Club Thrower).

In 1927 The Lake Geneva News announced that Chief Angus Lookaround would be in charge of a muskrat fur operation on the McDonald farm near Elkhorn. Later that year The Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wisconsin announced that Gus had joined the composite Wisconsin American Legion band as a sousaphone player and soloist. The group traveled to Paris, France. The next year he played bass viol in the Plaza Theater orchestra in Burlington, Wisconsin.

<end of part 3

Basketball Cages

June 29, 2021

While reviewing the chapter on the 1908 season from my upcoming book on the complete history of the Carlisle Indian School football team, my wife thought Warner having the football team practice in the basketball cage seemed strange. What was a basketball cage anyway? I had often wondered that myself. As a boy, I would check the local newspaper’s, the Alton Evening Telegraph, “Cage Schedule” to find when the high school basketball games were being played. Much later I learned that basketball games were once played in cages. Of course that meant little to me.

To better answer Ann’s question, a little research quickly found that basketball was once played in 12-feet-tall wire mesh cages that surrounded the courts. Players complained of having tic tac toe  grids imprinted on their bodies from being slammed into the cages. Later, rope mesh replaced the metal, probably because they cost less. But why did they need to cage the players away from spectators?

We have to go back to basketball’s roots. It was invented in 1891 by James Naismith to fill the gap between the end of football season and the beginning of baseball season. In Springfield, Massachusetts where the game was created, only indoor sports were practical that time of the year. Naismith borrowed some rules from other sports, including football’s then out-of-bounds rules. In football, the ball is fumbled out of bounds relatively infrequently but errant and tipped passed are common in the roundball game.

The first few rows of basketball spectators sat just outside the out-of-bounds lines, which meant that players routinely tussled with opponents and fans, who were partisans of one team or the other, for the ball. This quickly became unacceptable to basketball officials, who solved the problem by erecting cages. Why differing from football on out-of-bounds rules wasn’t considered is anybody’s guess.

More Fake News

July 5, 2020

Bryan DeArdo posted the following as part of a July 3, 2020 article on CBSSports.com that predicts a name change for the Washington Redskins. It appears that it is true that the team’s owner is folding under financial pressure from large corporations and will likely change the team’s name. However, the reason he gave for the 1933 name change appears to be more fake news.

Boston Braves became Washington Redskins

After just one year as the Braves, the franchise was renamed to the Redskins in 1933, four years before the team moved from Boston to Washington. The reason for the name change was simple: Boston’s new coach, Lone Star Dietz, and several of his Native American players disliked the name Braves and lobbied for the team to change its name to the Redskins. The franchise has kept the Redskins as its name until now.

This is the first time I’ve read or heard that Dietz and his players lobbied for a name change and it is interesting that DeArdo does not provide a source for his claim. I find it suspicious that he conveniently left out that the team relocated from Braves Field to Fenway Park at that time and that move was the reason cited by George Preston Marshall for the need to change the team’s name. He said fans would be confused by a team named the Braves not playing at Braves field as they had in the past. If memory serves, he owed some unpaid rent to the field’s owner who might have had problems with continued use of the name.

At least DeArdo didn’t claim that Marshall chose another name with an Indian motif to eliminate the need to buy new uniforms as had The Boston Globe in a December 29, 2013 article. That unresearched claim was easily refuted by viewing Boston newspaper articles from the beginning of the 1933 season. Marshall not only bought new uniforms for the Redskins, he changed the team’s colors and placed an emblem on the front reputedly designed by Lone Star Dietz.

My Uncle’s Tragedy

May 18, 2020

Excess Mortality

Charles Benjey, one of my uncles, was born on August 13, 1919 and died on February 12, 1990. He was well known for his corny jokes and listening to opera in that Illinois farmhouse on the prairie. But he was better known locally for having survived being born with spina bifida. I remember him saying on his 45th birthday, “Nobody ever expected me to live this long.” He, and everyone else, attributed his survival to his mother’s dedication plus the tough Sawyer genes she passed on to him.

Unfortunately, Grandma Benjey was pregnant with Charles when she was struck with the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19. It is quite probable the devastating influenza caused Charles’s spine to be open to the atmosphere. She did everything humanly possible for a woman of limited means on a farm decades before electricity was available to it. She succeeded and Charles lived to be 70, an age few with spina bifida reach.

Researching the book on Lone Star Dietz gained me some familiarity with the 1918-19 pandemic. (I don’t call it the Spanish Influenza because the most likely source was Camp Funston, Kansas.) Seeing considerably different results in different parts of the country and within states themselves, brought to mind a chart I had come across for the 1918-19 pandemic. That influenza struck cities at differing rates, most dependent upon the steps taken to prevent its spread, is similar to what is happening today. That chart is shown below. The 2020 pandemic isn’t finished yet but the death will likely be far less than a century ago.

Toledo, at 0.17% of its population, experienced the lowest mortality of any city listed. With the U. S. population at 330,000,000 today, devastation of that rate would be 561,000 people, five times what is currently being projected. If the country experiences the rate of Nashville, the highest city at 0.83%, the total would be 2,739,000 souls.

 

Kid Irish

April 9, 2020

While watching Robert Ryan get pummeled as a too-old-to-compete boxer in a movie on TCM while sequestered over the weekend, Kid Irish flashed through my mind. My father worked at the Owens-Illinois Glass Company machine shop in Alton, Illinois starting in 1950. He continued working there when the shop moved to a new facility in the nearby town of Godfrey in 1957 (I think). He retired in 1976 or 1977. While working there, he told me that one of his coworkers had been a boxer who fought under the name “Kid Irish.” I worked there one summer as a clean-up boy but don’t recall meeting the pugilist. He could have worked on the other shift, the one Dad was on. A few years back, I read or heard that Kid Irish was a common moniker used by white boxers to inform fans that they were not black.

Intrigued and required to self-distance from society, I made a quick internet search for “Kid Irish.” Boom. Up popped a listing for a professional boxer who fought under that ring name.  Thomas A. Chiolero of Alton, Illinois lived from 1909 to 1987. This had to be the guy Dad worked with. A St. Louis sportswriter was credited with giving him his nickname, probably because he had difficulty pronouncing the Italian surname.

Kid Irish fought 55 professional bouts for 352 rounds winning 39 (7 knockouts), losing 7 (knocked only once and that was in his last fight), and drawing 9 times. He fought primarily in Illinois and Missouri but ended his career on a tour of Australia in 1938.

A search of newspaper archives uncovered two other fighters using the same name. The first was a decade earlier and ended up in an insane asylum. The other came along decades after he had retired. I also found a wrestler and a race horse using that name.

Irish wasn’t through with boxing when he hung up his gloves. His obituary in the Alton Telegraph included his activities coaching boxing at local schools, the YMCA, and the Alton Police Department. It also mentioned that he was a machinist at Owens-Illinois Glass Company for 25 years, retiring in 1973.

Kid Irish 1974

Television Interview

September 14, 2018

Last month, WITF, the local PBS station, interviewed John Coyle, President of Craighead House, Sarah Fischer, Education Coordinator and Messiah College professor, Twig George, Jean Craighead George’s daughter, and me for a piece they were filming about Jean Craighead George. It was to be a 5-minute segment for the station’s portion of PBS’s Authors & Their Hometowns program, a half-hour piece to accompany PBS’s The Great American Read. They were also making a piece about John Updike, another writer with ties to Central Pennsylvania.

We were disappointed to learn that the Jean Craighead George piece didn’t make the cut when we viewed the broadcast of Authors & Their Hometowns Tuesday evening. Yesterday, I received the following message from the WITF producer:

“Although our story was not ultimately selected by PBS to be featured in the 30min Authors & Their Hometowns program…it will air on WITF TV as interstitial programming across our broadcast schedule beginning this evening! Be sure to watch the promo break prior to Doctor Blake at 10pm. If you tune in between 9:45-10pm you should catch it.

“The video is also available for viewing anytime online here–https://video.witf.org/video/great-american-read-the-wild-world-of-jean-craighead-george-nes82j/

Later, she informed me that it will be shown again this Sunday, September 16 at 2:25 pm and 11:45 pm EDT.

Those who don’t live in the WITF viewing area can see it anytime at the link above.

WhereItAllBegan.JPG

Jean Craighead George sitting at the vanity she repurposed as a writing desk when she was 12 years old.  She loved to sit here and look out the window at the Yellow Breeches Creek in the back yard.