Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

Will the Media Stop Tilting at the Redskins Windmill?

August 19, 2016

By virtue of being Lone Star Dietz’s biographer, I am sometimes drawn into the Redskins naming controversy. Earlier this year, I thought this issue had finally been put to rest when The Washington Post, the most vitriolic of the eastern media elite opposing the team’s name, conducted its own poll of American Indians and found, to use the Post’s own headline, “New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name.”

That hasn’t stopped the Post from insisting they know better how Indians should feel than do the Indians themselves but it greatly reduces their credibility in claiming the name is offensive. It also hasn’t stopped the Obama administration.

Barrett Dahl, an autistic member of both Choctaw and Sac and Fox Nations, committed the criminal act, at least within view of a member of the current administration, of wearing a Redskins jersey. While on a school trip to the nation’s capitol on October 30 of last year, he attended a pow-wow at which, according to Dahl, William Mendoza, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, approached him. “He comes to me and calls me the name weetard not retard, weetard. You’re a weetard for not understanding Redskins is offensive. Where are you from that you’re so stupid and uneducated that you don’t understand that the Redskins is offensive. I told him, ‘I’m from Oklahoma,’ as I’m very proud to be. That’s when he spits on me.”

A physical altercation ensued, the details of which haven’t been sorted out yet as Mr. Dahl and Mr. Mendoza each tell quite different stories about the ugliness. Mendoza claims to have witnesses to back him up but the press has been unable to reach any of them for confirmation.

I wonder how Mendoza feels about calling someone a retard after hearing about the poll.


Barrett Dahl

Carlisle Replaced Navy in Annnual Game With Army

December 28, 2010

Historians are familiar with Carlisle’s impressive victories over Army, first in 1905 and later in 1912. But few know that Carlisle almost replaced Navy as the Cadet’s end-of-season foe in 1913. Newspapers started hyping the 1913 football season in early August that year. First, it was announced that, “The Army, after several years of defeat by the Navy, is going to follow a new policy this season and there are few hard games on the soldiers’ list. A new feature of Army’s schedule will be a game on November 1 with Notre Dame.” On August 8, a news report datelined Trenton, NJ announced that negotiations were being held to move the Army-Navy game to the local fairgrounds. An August 12 news report out of Annapolis reported that, “Army and Navy football managers are at loggerheads over arrangements for the annual football game. The date is to be Nov. 29. West Point has objected to the number and situation of seats accorded them at Philadelphia and proposed the game be played at West Point and Annapolis alternatively or in New York every year. Navy stands pat on Franklin Field at Philadelphia.”

The August 28 Washington Post announced that the 1913 Army-Navy game was off and that, on that very day, Pop Warner would be signing a contract for the Carlisle Indians to play Army at West Point on November 29. The next day’s paper blared, “West Point-Carlisle Game Is Officially Announced,” “General Dismay at Naval Academy,” and “Took It for Granted That Game Would Eventually Be Arranged.” Army and Navy officials in Washington retained hopes that the inter-service game would yet be played.

On September 2, Navy officials threatened to break off all relations with West Point unless the school’s football teams meet on the playing field that year. The day after that, the Secretary of the War Department called a meeting with the two academies’ athletic directors and hammered out an agreement for Army and Navy to meet on November 29 at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The Washington Post reporter covering this story mused, “Just how Army will get out of the Carlisle muddle remains to be seen.”

Jim Thorpe’s Eye Disease

May 27, 2010

While looking through some 1911 newspapers about the 1911 Carlisle-Syracuse game for an article Ray Schmidt is doing for the College Football Historical Society, I came across a piece about Jim Thorpe having eye surgery. The December 12, 1911 edition of The Washington Post included a special from Carlisle, Pa. dated Dec. 6 titled, “Thorpe Under Knife” and subtitled “Great Indian Athlete Is Operated On for Eye Trouble.” This was news to me. I was completely unaware that Jim Thorpe had had eye trouble when he was young.

A quick scan of Thorpe biographies revealed nothing nor did the Carlisle Indian School newspaper and literary magazine. Apparently, wire services didn’t pick up this article and Thorpe biographers didn’t stumble across it. A reason for that may be that trachoma was so prevalent among Indians at that time that it was not surprising that Jim would have had it. Richard Henry Pratt devoted several pages to eye disease among the Indians in his autobiography because it was a large problem with which he dealt.

Dr. Cornelius R. Agnew of New York City visited Fort Marion and became interested in improving conditions for the Indians. Agnew was a frequent visitor at Carlisle and a significant benefactor. On each visit, he would examine ill students and recommend treatments for them. He also treated students with trachoma at his office in New York. After his demise, his protégé, Dr. L. Webster Fox, of Philadelphia stepped up and treated students for free, charging the school only a dollar a day for room and board in his hospital. Fox treated Carlisle students for 20 years and, during this time, trained the school’s physicians in performing certain treatments. So, by the time Jim Thorpe developed trachoma, the school’s physician was probably able to do the surgery himself.

The article pointed out that Thorpe was unable to read Walter Camp’s article in which he named Thorpe to his All America first team, but was able to listen to someone read it to him. Apparently, the surgery was successful because good vision is necessary to hit a major league fastball.

Source of Sweetcorn Misinformation

April 8, 2010

A July 1970 article about the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe’s alcohol program that was written by Homer Bigart for the New York Times News Service appears to be the source of much of the misinformation about Asa Sweetcorn that Sally Jenkins used in her book about Carlisle Indian School. One paragraph from this unsourced article is the major culprit:

The most illustrious member of the tribe was Asa Sweetcorn, an all-time football hero who played with Jim Thorpe at Carlisle. Asa was a giant who reputedly wore a size 21 collar and could ram his head through wooden doors.

A quick look through Carlisle Indian School newspapers uncovered no mention of Asa Sweetcorn in any year other than 1910. The Washington Post listed him as the starting left guard for the game against Virginia. This supports Gus Welch’s assertion that Sweetcorn was a “running guard.” School newspaper coverage of some other 1910 games mentioned his play. No mention of him being in a Carlisle game before or after 1910 was found. Steckbeck only lists him as being on the varsity squad in 1910. However, his rosters were often incomplete. Asa may have been on the varsity before 1910 but wasn’t a starter. But no evidence has been found to support that.

So, Sweetcorn was not a star on the 1910 team, or any other year. So, he definitely wasn’t “an all-time football hero.” He didn’t play on the varsity with Jim Thorpe, as Thorpe only played on the varsity in 1907, 1908, 1911 and 1912. He was not at Carlisle in 1910 when Sweetcorn played. So, the two didn’t play on the same team unless, when younger, they played on a shop team together.

Sweetcorn may have bulked up after leaving Carlisle, but Welch’s description of him and his photograph in uniform differ from that. He was anything but a giant when at Carlisle. It is possible that he gained so much weight later that he needed a size 21 collar, but he surely didn’t when he was at the Indian School.