Posts Tagged ‘Nez Perce’

A False Report

January 18, 2010

In August 1897, a newspaper article with a dateline of Chicago was widely reported:

With sly and careful steps David McFarland, halfback of the famous Carlisle Indian football team, came into the corridor of the Palmer House yesterday afternoon, glancing from side to side in a nervous manner. On reaching the hotel desk the Indian heaved a sigh of relief and said to Chief Clerk Grant:

“I am all right at last. I guess they won’t catch me after all,” and then the Indian asked for some paper, saying he wanted to write a letter.

After being held five days by members of his tribe, the Nez Perce Indians, in Idaho, near Spokane Falls, McFarland managed to escape and make his way to Chicago, and last evening he left for the school at Carlisle. According to the story he told a reporter the members of the tribe did not want him to return to his school, but to stay on the reservation and become a chief. At present the father of the young football player is chief of the tribe, but he is growing old. Young McFarland is the popular choice of the members of the once famous tribe and they want him to become their chief. But the influence of the school, along with the glory of football, according to his own confession, is more attractive than being chief of 1,000 Indians.

 About a week later, eastern papers contradicted the earlier report:

David McFarland, the half back of the Indian school football team, has arrived at Carlisle, Pa., from the West. He emphatically denies the telegraphic reports which stated that he was captured and held a prisoner for five days by the Nez Perce Indians, who desired to keep him away from Carlisle school and make him their chief.

This just goes to show that newspaper reporting has never been as accurate as some would have us believe.