This 2017 episode covers the Fort Shaw Indian School , part of a boarding school system designed to make Native American students conform to white culture. In a surprising twist, it also boasted a champion women's basketball team.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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how unhappy Saturday, I'm Tracy well thin and I'm Holly fry on June. Twenty? Second: U S! Secretary of the Interior, Deb HOLLAND announced that the Department of the Interior is starting an investigation into the system of boarding schools were indigenous students that was run by the. U S: government and religious institutions in the nineteenth and twentyth centuries, and the words of a bill titled truth Feeling commission on Indian Boarding School Policy act which Highland introduced in the house and twenty twenty quote. The indian boarding school policy was adopted by the United States government to strip american indian alaskan native children of their indigenous identities, beliefs and traditional languages to assimilate them into white american culture through federally funded christian run, schools.
it had the effect of cultural genocide. This announcement came not long after the announcement of a mass grave discovered at the sight of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. Canada's system of residential schools extremely similar to the one in the United States. That discovery was announced in May and the grave is believed to contain the remains of at least two hundred fifteen children. Another discovery of more than seven hundred fifty unmarked graves at the sight of a former school and Saskatchewan was announced on June to fourth and a third discovery of a hundred and eighty two human remains an unmarked graves and British Columbia was announced on June thirtieth. We ve talked about these systems of schools and both the? U S and in Canada, on a number of episodes of the show, most recently in our three partner on Jim Thorpe, and given all of this recent
these were re. Releasing another episode, that's related over the next two Saturday's. It is our two partner on the fort shot me in school girls, basketball team, which originally came out November. Thirteen and fifteen twenty seventeen and one correction here when talking about the origins of basketball. In this episode we say that Springfield College, where the sport was developers in Connecticut whose in Massachusetts, I have no explanation for this mistake. I made it I'd types, a totally wrong word, rather than typing the name of the commonwealth, I live well, you know we only type ten words a week, so they all are perfect every time, but so keep that correction in mind- and here you go welcome to stuff you in history class a production of Iheart Radio,
whoa and welcomes the by gas Tracy Meeting Wilson and I'm highly fry firm This time we get requests from listeners or an episode about some kind of sports history. That's true and we do and we have episodes that are related to the Olympic Games and some that are on swimming weightlifting in several different types of racing, including horses and speedboats, and automobiles We have not really talked a lot about team sports, which I think is what people are asking for women they ask for sports. Yes, today's subject as the Fort shot indian School girls, basketball team, they became worse champions in nineteen o four, which is pretty early in the entire history of that sport. But the story also play that right at the intersection of two other pretty big stories, there's the
can indian boarding school program in the United States and also the one thousand nine hundred and four St Louis World's fair. So we are going to tackle the story into parts and today is part one. We have the background on this boarding school system that the Fort Shaw School was part of, as well as how basketball came to and florist at the school, and then I'm parked We will talk about how the team became world champions while they were there and of a note at the beginning. We are going to be talking about a lot of intentional first to quote american Eyes indigenous children- and this is a Weird word because the word American can encompass a whole diversity, erases and ethnicities, and cultures and religions, but these efforts Tuk Americanized,
if children about was really only about one type of american women was white, christian and English speaking so where we know that American means a lot of things besides that. But in this context too, that's what it was really about and also, if it's not obvious that this point we're gonna be talking about some pretty abhorrent views this episode x Y yeah. So when we use the word americanized in this context know that we are referring to that used. the time, someone else's very specific, very narrow view of that yeah for Shaw Montana began its life in June of eighteen sixty seven as an outpost which was called Camp Reynolds and that was on land that the United States had acquired from France through the Louisiana purchase, which of course took place in it. Tina three the following month. It was renamed Fort Shaw, military reservation. It remained in opera,
nation as a fort until eighteen. Ninety one the fort serve to protect white travellers and traders and the troops garrison. There were an active fighting force in the United States, ongoing wars against the region's native nations and tribes. Those words had really gone on for centuries, and this is playing out toward the end. Those centuries of active warfare, also after the major removals of indigenous tribes from their home territory, is like the bulk of that had happened, but it was still ongoing. So this toward the end of that phase of history, but still things related to were going on so about a year after the fourth ceased military operations. The office of Indian affairs converted into a government boarding school for native american children
the fort shot in the school became part of the nation's network of federal off reservation boarding, schools that were meant to american eyes. The indigenous populations in the flagship of this system was Slovenia Carlyle Indian School, which was established in eighteen. Seventy, nine, its founder, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Henry problem. Believed that native Americans would become extinct if they didn't immediately conform to white culture by force. to do so. He thought he would save the indigenous population. This is often summed up, as quote: kill the indian and save the man is obviously not the only person who thought this. There are other policy makers who were of the same mindset. Pratt spoke at length about this whole idea. A little later on in his career at the nineteenth annual conference of charities and correction- and he gave an address that began quote a great general- has said that the only good Indian is a dead one and that
I think some of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this that off. the Indian there is in the race, should be dead, kill the Indian in him and save the man Although Carlyle was the most well known of these off reservation boarding schools, it wasn't the first or only such effort mission, schools and other religious efforts go back almost at the beginning of european colonization. with america- and we talked about some of these impasse podcast, including the Harvard Indians, coolly, Massachusetts and the foreign missions who'll in Connecticut, unwilling to both of those episodes in the show notes, church efforts to educate the indigenous population these earlier schools, a lot of the time for it,
First more about spreading Christianity than about straight out cultural assimilation, but that started to shift in the early 19th century. In one thousand, eight hundred and nineteen Congress passed the civilization fun And this act set aside funding for missionary societies to run quote civilising schools for native Americans into the end of the nineteenth century, hundreds of boarding and they Schools were built mere and on reservation land, and they have the dual mission of edge. catering and so called civilising the native students. The government run preservation, boarding schools like the ones at Carlisle and Forshaw join this extensive network of boarding and day schools between one thousand eight hundred and eighty and one thousand nine hundred and two. The federal government built about five boarding schools that were physically removed from their students reservation, sometimes by hundreds of miles,
and collectively all these boarding and day schools, both on and off reservations, had the same goal to remove. All traces of indigenous culture from the native population and replace it which, with that which was considered appropriately quote American to do this. The off reservation boarding schools, removed native children from their homes, families, tribes and cultures for periods of months or years. It's too far away a lot of the time for people to go home even for breaks. Students were held to really Strict scheduling and military style discipline classes were taught only in English and children who didn't already have an english name were given one and called by that. Instead indigenous languages and religious practices, Raul forbidden and punishments for breaking those rules were harsh and even abusive. The uniforms, meals, lessons am recreation- were all meant to America
eyes the students, dress, speech, demeanor and beliefs, and many of the schools, teachers and administrators told the students that their native beliefs and ways of life were wrong and backward and evil, and even savage as this was such an explicit effort like at Carlyle they even took before and after pictures after students arrived at school, they would take before pictures of people in their own traditional dress that they had come to the school in and then like give them here, cuts and dressed them in other clothes and take pictures. Afterward. Most schools divided their class time between academic and vocational instruction under the idea that students would graduate knowing some kind of productive trade. So further. The the boys that might be things like blacksmithing and farming for girls, the tree
it, was often sewing or domestic work. Some schools even hired out their students labour while they were attending school, but even so, the graduation rates are actually really low and there were a lot of limits to the so called assimilation that the schools are enforcing, even though the students were expected to talk, dress, act and work like white people, once they graduated or otherwise left the school. They were still considered to be native American. They were still subject to the same segregation, discrimination as the rest of the indigenous population. In addition, all of that conditions, that many of these schools were very poor and hundreds of students died of disease and malnutrition as well as of injury or exposure after running away from the school I have also been numerous reports of physical, emotional and sexual abuse taking place at the schools over the decades, sometimes native pair,
really had no other choice as to whether to send their children to these boarding schools. In some cases, there just wasn't another, option available, forgetting in education or life, was so difficult on the reservation that it seemed like the choice was between boarding, school and starvation is obviously not really a choice. Some government indian agent took children by force or strongly pressured parents to send their children to board boarding school. This was especially true when it came to the leaders of tribes that has recently been at war with the United States. Their children were aggressively recruited, sometimes taken that their consent and sent to far off boarding schools almost as hostages? Simultaneously, though, there were families who sent their children voluntarily, hoping that if they received an education at a governments,
all learning English in the ways of white society. They might return home to better advocate for their own people, and this was especially true when it came to schools. They had better reputations in terms of how the students were treated or worked so far away from the rest of the community somewhere between twenty thousand and thirty thousand children went a federal off reservation boarding, schools from the late eighteen, hundreds and the early nineteenth hundreds, but at the same time, roughly a hundred thousand Americans went to school through similar americanization efforts at on reservation, boarding, schools and day schools. So, during these decades the the children who were receiving some kind of formal education were farewell mainly doing so at a programme that was meant to christian eyes, end quote americanized them. The United States we should mention. Was not the only nation to have schools and other programmes like this Canada, for example, heading
very similar system of residential schools that began operating in about eighteen. Eighty in the last of those actually closed in nineteen may be sick in Austria S, so many indigenous children and children of aboriginal descent were forcibly removed from their families that they became known as the stolen generations. There is actually a pretty old pon cast about that back in the archives, and we ve got a number of requests related to this in some way or other years we have gotten approximately an equal number of requests for the residential school programme, in Canada and about specifically Carlyle School in the United States, but like Carlyle, as we ve just said, was part of a much much bigger system. So the break we're going to talk more about Fort Shaw, indian School specifically, and how it wound up starting a basketball programme
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and the answer was centrally located among eleven different reservations that were scattered across Bore states included. Colville spoke. And incurred a in Eastern Washington, Fort Hall Idaho Wind River in. Why homing and Blackfeet Flathead Fort Bell Nap for Peck Oh and northern Cheyenne in Montana, even though Fort Shaw was roughly central to all of these different reservations. The closest we're still more than a hundred miles away for show Actually, a replacement for another school, a government run day school on Fort Peck, indian Reservation, which burned down in eighteen. Ninety two: the federal government look too recently vacated Fort Shaw because it would be easy and inexpensive to turn it into a school. The officers quarters became housing for faculty instead
the barracks were student housing and since it had been a military base, it already had other necessities like a mess hall, a chapel, a laundry and a hospital. Another bonus from the governments point of view was that along hundred plus mild journey home- and some of them were from much farther away than Whilst the school was far enough away from all of the reservations that students came from that in theory, it would discourage students to visit home, it would discourage family to come and visit students, both of which they administrators thought might slow. Down the students assimilation or cause students took what relapse into their native ways. They also believed that this distance would deter students from trying to run away. This was not entirely true, indefinitely tried to, and did run away from, Fort Shaw after its conversion.
HU, a school for Shall reopened on December, twenty, seventh eighteen. Ninety two for students, ages, five to eight it stood included members of numerous tribes and nations, including the Blackfeet Chippewa Cree, Crow, in China and showed Grove on a cinema and sue me We were of multi tribal descent and many had one white parents, although only some of the student spoke English upon arrival at the school. Nearly all of them, spoke more than one indigenous language, as we said at the top of it, a core element of Fort Shaw, indian Schools purpose was to remove students from their own cultural beliefs and practices and instead, assimilate them into white society. So this included English and cultural instruction, along with some academic and vocational classes, plus music theater and physical education. Alot of the youngest student spent their first couple of years. Learning English and white cultural norms before focusing.
On any academic or vocational study vocational classes weren't just about teaching the children useful skills that could help them earn a living once they graduated they were. though, about actually keeping the school running. The show labor at Fort Shaw included. Raising the vegetables and livestock that provided food and milk for the school, so all of the school uniforms and laundering amending them. They are, show me the items that were sold to earn money for the school girls learned, embroidery and lace making. While boys learn things like blacksmithing furniture making and general carpentry, their pe courses were also separated by gender. The boys got to play team sports along with doing track and field. The girls mainly had what was called physical culture. This is sort of a cross between a health class calisthenics and Europe, Sal Gymnastics that was popular at the time Josephine Langley known as juicy, was hired as an quote indian assistant, along with two other
women from the Blackfeet Reservation in eighteen, ninety, three, Jos, wanted to be a teacher, and she hoped that by taking this job is in a system should be able to work. Her way up the ladder she had probably learn to play basketball while studying at Carlisle, indian School, and she introduced the sport at for sure around one thousand, eight hundred and ninety six, at first playing with a soccer ball and makeshift baskets until the school eventually approved the purchase of regulation of games were played in the army, bases old dance hall, which had a pact dirt floor and was easily big enough to accommodate the court and the players, basketball, which is actually to words. This point was not just new to Fort Shaw. Indian school James, Nay Smith, had developed the sport only about five years before its introduction there, it developed at speed
The field college in Connecticut, which was also known as the international. Why I m C a training school he had been looking for a team sport but could be played indoors, particularly during the winter months, when the college's football teams regiment of calisthenics marching in weight, training was just not sufficient. To keep up their physique around the turn of the twentieth century. Football was extremely violent teams, basically faced off against each other in a wage formation and they came through themselves at each other full force. It was all something that could be played in the confine space on an indoor surface without risk even more injuries than were already happening during regular play, so increasing basketball, Nay Smith was trying to invent a team sport that was fast paste and vigorous, but did not involve large young men hurling themselves into one another as hard as possible. This kind of aside note here the
ball, but May Smith was trying to replace, was also really knew. The first college football game is generally marked is happening between Princeton in wreckers on November sixth of eighteen sixty nine, although that initial game was closer to soccer than to american football. As we know it today, this rugby soccer hybrid of a mere in football grew up over the next decade or so, and the Carlyle Indian School Football team, which was founded in eighteen. Ninety three played a big role in the evolution of that sport. on average, the Carlyle football players were much smaller than the players on the teams that they played against and they came up with a ton of strategic tricks to get around. This disadvantage If there wasn't a specific rule against it, they would try it. There are still a it. Can football rules today that came about as the Intercollegiate football Rules Committee outlawed?
Carlyle strategies in between seasons. I'm just going to continue with this digression for a moment to say that I do not care football as sport. There are a lot of you: no social and economic and medical and play issues around football that I hear a lot about, but I like it, I e it would take a lot to make me set their own and watch. ballgame all the way through. Even so, this whole story of the Carlyle Indian School Football team is fascinating and I want to do an episode about it. One day, Jim Thorpe, whose name in the Fox language translated to bright path, was the first native Americans when a gold medal at the Olympic scrutinised He was one of the players and their strategies in the ways that he bent every rule. If it wasn't specifically outlawed their coach pop Warner would would try it. So what like that the whole
the story is just fascinating and bizarre and has definite like the Carlyle team sewing these leather football shaped patches on their uniforms to trick Harvard into thinking. They all have the boy at Harvard retaliating by painting all of the balls maroon its. It is a great story and it as one of the few other things about team sports. I might interest myself enough in doing podcast on it. Sometime later, I like Alosa version through sewing. That makes it super fun time. It's it's it's a it's fascinating anyway, so niceness original game of basketball to get back to basketball. I had thirteen rules not going to read them all, but they included that the ball could be thrown or batted with one or both hands, but not with a fist
shouldering holding pushing tripping and striking opponents were all fowls, as was hitting the ball with a fist. The game was played in two fifteen minute halves with a five minute rest, but otherwise the clock did not stop during play. So there was a very fast pace: game, not a lot of stopping pretty low scoring, compared to today, although it wasn't listed in the thirteen original rules, the games started with a jump ball or a tip off at court, and both teams returned to Centre Court for Another jump ball after baskets were scored soon after newsmen drafted the first set of rules, women's colleges in the northeast started, taking a basketball as well send a barren syn. college released and adapted rule set for women in eighteen. Eighty, two and eighty nine, Six. She headed up a committee to agree and even further modified set of rules for girls which made the game so
easier and less intense that a lot of programmes, especially west of the Mississippi, just ignored them and had the girls play by what are called the quote boys rules, especially for the girls teams that had already been playing by the same rules as everyone else there are like. Now, I'm not doing so. Basketball program at Fort Shy was actually the first basketball programme organised in the state of Montana. It immediately became immensely popular among the girls at the school physical Games played in teams were already a really important element of pretty much all of their indigenous cultures. Basketball also had some some clarity used to a number of native girls Games is included, double ball, which use the pair of balls tethered together and then tossed from a stick which was exclusively a women's sport among most of it,
claims tribes. There is another game called Shinny, which was a lot like field hockey unused curved sticks, which was generally a women's rule, are a women's game as well. sometimes also had versions of lurk, lacrosse that were played by women. Basically, there were a lot of teams, words with balls specifically played by women among a lot of different indigenous cultures. Basket. it was also a lot more fun and physically active than physical culture class, and it was the one time of day when students could really shed some of the schools. Cultural expectations They could participate in unladylike behaviour like running and jumping with abandon, although the boy the school, had shown an initial interested basketball as well. Soon, the we're out performing them on the court and their interest waned. They also had plenty of other teams, words to choose from, whereas the girls did not begin.
There was no other basketball programme in Montana. At the time for the first few years of basketball at Fort Shaw, indian School, all of the games were intramural scrimmage matches, even though they were as popular with local community, as they were with the girls at the school at an end of years. Ramona Game in eighteen. Ninety seven, they did an intramural demonstration that brought in three hundred spectators to watch in eighteen. Ninety eight Fred See Campbell became Superman and in a fort shaw- and they seem to have had a genuine interest in making things better for the school or improving the schools image and that of his students,
and he also wanted the community to begin seeing those students in a different light. Racism against native Americans was endemic and severe and Campbell recognise that all this work they were doing to quote assimilate the students was not really going to be effective. If, once those students graduated from school, they were still shunned from white society. So he started inviting people from the community to the school and taking students out into the community strategy basically get everyone used to each other, hopefully changed them hearts and minds within the community's, though a natural way to do this was by hosting basketball games and working Talk a little bit more about that. But first we are going to pause and have a word from one of our fantastic sponsors. Support for this plan cast comes from, invest, go Q, Q, Q body, while the greatest innovations have in common patrons org.
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Domain with superintendent at the school Red Hannibal had been an athlete himself. Some sources actually credit him with being the one who introduced basketball at Fort Job, and it was definitely played there for a couple of years before he became superintendent from his own first hand, experience who thought athletics were a good way to build a person, self esteem and sense of worth on hop of helping to develop a strong and healthy body. So we focused on improving and building up all the schools, athletics teams, but it was really the girls basketball team that he saw as having the most promise for bringing good publicity to the school and its Students, basketball had barely made its way into Montana. At this point there were
so few other teams to play against that. The Fort Shaw, girls teams, first game against another school, was actually against a boy's team and that he was from great falls Campbell organised another girls team in Sun River, which was not far away. So the fort shot team would have someone else to play when it was time for games. He would bring this river team in by Wagon Fort Shaw defeated Son River easily every time of course, more more schools, more other programme started having basketball teams. The play against those other teams, the fort shot. You had to start travelling farther and farther away in late nineteen, oh two. They travelled to Butte month Anna by wagon and then trained where they were. They defeated the Butte high team fifteen to nine the next day. They travelled to Helena again by train, and this time they were defeated. Fifteen to six again, I will point out how much
lower these scores are than what we would normally see in a basketball game today, there's only one did one digits I think that original basketball is a little more. My taste may be than current basketball, because that is one of my things of like you. Could just China wants the last bit cause there's so much scoring yeah. What does not in any way throw shaded Basque above you love it. That's cool! Those just always been my thing, a Blake I could come in for the last ten minutes rate. That's what it's really a male bunker so after that laws, though, at Helena Campbell, started refining the girls positions on the team, he real for she had lost the ball to Helena in more than half of the jump balls at centre court, so he moved Nettie. Worse, who wasn't the tallest on the team, but had a really incredible vertical jump to centre. Nettie
sister Lizzie we're Assiniboine and had been among Fort Shaw's first students when it opened. This change was not quite enough to help Fort Shaw Defeat, Butte Parochial School in the next game they played they loved that wins, tend to sex, so Campbell made another switch. He left many worth as centre, and he made many Burton and in a sense of her forward words. Many was a member of the Lamb High Shoshone nation, which was not actually in favour of sending children away to government government boarding schools. But many father worked translator and he thought that she could benefit from getting an english education and a sense of her and her siblings were actually made tea. A french, Canadian and Chippewa Cree, zero dollars and two cents they were listed in their school records is sue because their particular people were essentially landless in the United they were not part of a federally recognise tribe, some of the people at the mission school they had attended previously falsified. There
travel affiliation to be able to get them into the school which were like of. We talked previously about how they were all kinds of reasons for four children to go to these schools, and this was a case where Emma and her siblings were in dire financial straits, and so But the people who made this changed their tribal affiliation were doing what they thought was best for them, so combination of girl impositions that Campbell came up with became a winning one for Fort Shaw. Their next game, Hence the college team Montana State University in Mozilla, now known, as the University of Montana Fort, shall one nineteen to nine. From there they were undefeated for the rest of the season playing at least six more games, including against another college team them on. Hannah agricultural college ferments, and resounding winds in re matches against both Helena High School, which was a twenty eight to ten victory and Butte Parochial, which was an eighteen, the eight score,
Games were not all on the road, the school while it had that large dance hall, there was great for their own scrimmages practices. I didn't really have a large enough space to accommodate the crowds who started wanted. The games, so they started using Luther Hall and Great falls Montana as their home Game Court Luther Hall was a ballroom that was big enough for them, lying area and hundreds of spectators, great values, also about twenty five miles away from the school and since travel to and from their had happened by wagon, the team and their their chaperones ing and coach wound up staying at a hotel, which was a treat for most of them over the course of a You games Great Falls, Montana started to think of the Fort Shaw team as their own home team. Although game coverage
go paper still drifted into casual racism, especially in descriptions of the girls appearances and their quote. Savage wins. It started to carry a little bit of a tone of local pride into focus more on the players other accomplishments at school, rather than the fact that they were quote Indian. They didn't maiden disguise the girls cultural heritage, but it stopped being written about as though it were it have something to judge about them. In the end of the one thousand, nine hundred and two one thousand nine hundred and three season before Swat team had a record of nine wins and two losses. The game of basketball was still so new to the Montana that there weren't official rankings or play off, but nevertheless the fort shot team was regarded as the state champions many Burton had become so popular, especially for her scoring pity that spectators chant whenever they were playing was shoot. Many shoot the basket
games also gave the school and opportunity to show off some other talents. The ban, and the mandolin orchestra provided the before game and half time entertainment. Sometimes after the games, the court was turned back into it. its floor where the girl showed off their skills in ballroom, dancing, all also brought in lots of coverage from the local press, of course, racism and prejudice still existed, but the community started to see these students as talented and capable rather than as unethical troublemakers and nineteen o three s m Mcgowan contacted Fred Campbell with an intriguing invitation. Mcgowan had previously been superintendent of the children indian School, but he had recently moved into a new role director of the model indian school that was being created for the Saint Louis world. Spare Mc Gowan Ask Campbell to select sum of Fort Shaw's, best stew,
and to participate in the model school which was going to run from June first two November. First, nineteen o four and Campbell agreed but that becomes a whole other story. So we're gonna talk about what this agreement meant for the basketball team and how it led to their becoming world champions. In part, two of this podcast I'm excited for party. You meet you, it's a really fun story, you don't I mean when you think about this being a completely new sport really for people and our it completely shifted. exceptions. I have a new appreciation for basketball. I really admire the girls and young women who played on his team working talk more about them next
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Transcript generated on 2021-07-29.