Posts Tagged ‘Fort Marion’

Carlisle Indians in the Movies

January 9, 2020

5.4 Yellow fort

A photo of The Yellow Menace being shot

Sometimes something goes full circle when you least expect it. On a recent trip to St. Augustine, Florida, I looked into a few things I only had the vaguest understanding of. I was well aware that, around 1875, Richard Henry Pratt was assigned to confine captive plains Indians taken in combat at a place 2,000 miles from their homeland on the prairie. The place was Fort Marion. I knew it was located near St. Augustine but that was about it. A visit to Castillo de San Marcos, built by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695, informed me that this impenetrable fort was the place of incarceration. Old photographs taken during the 1875-1878 period of confinement supported this.

When the U. S. purchased Florida from Spain,  the Castillo was renamed Fort Marion. It was there that Pratt conceived the radical view that American Indians were educable and need not be eradicated. Prior to coming to Fort Marion, Pratt had led a troop of Buffalo Soldiers in the 10th Cavalry and had worked closely with Indian scouts (from tribes that were enemies of the ones he was fighting). At Fort Marion, he dressed the prisoners in cavalry uniforms and assigned trustees to guard their brethren. As a practical matter, escape was pointless with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and land that was foreign to plains Indians in all other directions.

Pratt allowed Quaker ladies who wintered nearby to teach the prisoners to read and write. The prisoners taught them archery and sold Sunday visitors their artwork. His experiences here led Pratt to open Carlisle Indian Industrial School at the former site of the army’s cavalry school at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

While researching the lives of Carlisle Indian School football players, I learned that three (possibly more) of them matriculated at Keewatin Academy in Wisconsin after leaving Carlisle. That the three were all Chippewa from Minnesota may have been coincidental but they appeared to be friends. Leon Boutwell and Joe Guyon joined the football team that was coached by their former schoolmate, Peter Jordan (sometimes spelled Jourdan). After the end of the regular season, the academy migrated to its winter campus in St. Augustine, where it extended its season by playing against southern football teams—until it was time to prepare for the baseball season.

Unknown to me, until I received a photograph of Boutwell and Guyon made up to look like Chinese men, was that St. Augustine had hosted a bustling movie colony years before film makers escaped to Hollywood, California to avoid enforcement of Thomas Edison’s patents. Thomas Graham, professor emeritus of history at Flagler College, has documented that colorful history in Silent Films in St. Augustine. He identified the location in the photo of Boutwell and Guyon was the doorway to the chapel at Fort Marion and that they were probably playing characters in the 1916 serial film The Yellow Menace.

Professor Graham has also graciously allowed me to use a photograph taken of the shooting of the film. He explained, “Most of the ‘Oriental’ men in the movie were local black St. Augustinians, although the local newspaper ran a want ad by the movie company for ‘short statured’ white men–evidently to play Asians. The uniformed soldiers are Florida National Guardsmen and the guns are Gatling machine guns.” Although their movie careers were short, Boutwell and Guyon were far from finished.

After serving in the 14th Field Artillery Band at Fort Sill during WWI, Leon Boutwell went on to play in the NFL for the Oorang Indians under the name Little Cyclone. After the team folded, he put his training from Carlisle as a printer to work, eventually owning and operating The Daily Telegram in Mechanicsburg, Ohio.

During WWI Joe Guyon played for the Georgia Tech “Golden Tornado” championship football team where an assistant coach said, “Tackling him was like grabbing an airplane propeller.” He played for several teams in the NFL, often alongside Jim Thorpe, and minor league baseball teams. He is enshrined in both College and Professional Football Halls of Fame.

Boutwell Guyon as Chinese

Joe Guyon (left) and Leon Boutwell (right) in costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hampton University Forges New Field — Again

April 11, 2011

When most people think of Hampton University, they consider it to be a historically black educational institution, which it is, of course. However, It is more than that. In 1878, Lt. Richard Henry Pratt convinced 17 of the younger of his former prisoners at Fort Marion, Florida to enroll in an educational program he established at what was then called Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Pratt soon disagreed with Hampton’s policy of cloistering students from the community at large and proceeded to found Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Hampton did not stop educating Indians; it continued enrolling them for decades. Their records are a source of information for people researching Carlisle students as sometimes some family members attended Hampton while others attended Carlisle. Very few appear to have attended both schools. One person, and probably more, Angel deCora, the famous Winnebago artist, was first educated at Hampton and later taught at Carlisle.

Hampton University recently became the home of something else of interest to people living in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, the eighth such installation in the U. S. and the largest in the world, completed treatment of it first group of patients in November. These men were treated for Prostate Cancer but Proton Therapy is not limited to that application as it is also used to treat a variety of other types of cancer. Their web site states that Hampton Roads leads the country in Prostate Cancer deaths. That fact might be one of the reasons the $220M facility was located where it is. That the Department of Defense ponied up $7.9M toward its costs may be because so many military personnel are stationed in the Hampton Roads area or retire there. Large numbers of Viet Nam veterans are afflicted with Prostate and other cancers due to exposure to Agent Orange. Apparently, Agent Orange affected more than just the people who handled it in their daily work or those who trudged through the terrain that had been sprayed with the defoliant.

Proton Therapy appears to be the Prostate Cancer treatment modality with the fewest side effects of the available treatment options. Next time back to football, I think.