Carlisle Indian Industrial School
At the beginning of the 20th century, the government funded schools for Native American children were used to assimilate them into white society. One such school, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, opened in 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Because the Carlisle campus had been previously procured from the Department of War for use as an army barrack, the area was not on a reservation. Therefore, the school was the first federal government non-reservation Native American boarding school. Status as a non-reservation school allowed the administration to strip traditional heritage from the students. For example, students often wore military uniforms and marched in drills. Also, the Native Americans were prohibited to speak their native language or wear their native clothing. Administrators would send students to the homes of caucasians in the community, and were expected to learn trades. The Native American students were also expected to become more like the caucasians and less like their Native relatives.
Backstory and Context
Other changes were going on within the United States during this period. There was a shift of the population, and the fringed wilderness was depleting. The roughness that had been prevalent in earlier times was given way to team sports. There was a population movement from rural areas to more urban settings, which also created additional opportunities for communities, colleges, and workforce teams to play sports against one another.
The increase and popularity inevitably led to an increase in both games and the location of where games were played. There was a large increase in the amount of stadiums that were built. City density led to public demand of more parks and open spaces, which also played a role in the growth of playing fields and stadiums during this time.
Though Carlisle was not located in a metropolitan area, the administrators likely recognized some of these external factors. They believed football would also give exposure to the school.
In 1896, Carlisle hired a coach rather than using volunteers, and the team played against Brown, Connecticut, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Penn State, Princeton, Wisconsin, and Yale. That season, Carlisle won six games and public interest in the team grew.
Warner's first year coaching was successful. However the biggest game of the season was against the tremendously successful Penn on October 13th, 1899. Penn had won sixty five of sixty seven games the previous five years. During this game, however, the atmosphere was livid and 22,000 people showed up for the game. The result was an impressive Carlisle win, 16-5.
That year Thorpe scored 25 touchdowns and a record 198 points. However, there was evidence that when Thorpe was away from Carlisle he had collected $15.00 a week, which equated to him playing pro ball. This was the beginning of decline for Carlisle football.