Original Document
Original Document
The Carlisle Indian School's Olympic heroes, 1912

"Carlisle's Olympic Heroes,"

YOU, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world," said King Gustav of Sweden, as he crowned James Thorpe, the American Indian of the Carlisle Indian School, with the laurel wreath of victory, and presented to him a beautiful bronze bust of himself, made by the leading sculptor of Sweden.

The Indian race of this country came prominently to the forefront in athletic prowess at the Olympic games, which were held during the month of July in Stockholm, Sweden. While the United States was victorious in track events, she cannot be unmindful of the part which the aboriginal Americans took in helping to swell the victory. It had been charged on previous Olympic meets that the Americans specialized in athletics, but this was refuted this year when America captured the Pentathlon and the Decathlon, the two all-round championship events, which were purposely put into the games this year because it was thought that Europeans would excel in both. These two events were captured by an American Indian. Tewanima, the fleet-footed Hopi runner from the Carlisle School, was the only American to gain points in the long-distance races, and he came in second in the 10,000-meter race, thus capturing two points; while his schoolmate, Thorpe, won six points and the all-round championship for his country. This dual victory means much for the American Indian.

Thorpe's achievement was recognized officially by the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Interior, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and others, who wrote letters of congratulation to him.

On their return from Europe to the school, these two athletes, with Mr. Glenn Warner, athletic director of the school, who is considered the foremost coach in America, were tendered a great reception by the citizens in Carlisle. There was a monster parade, a public meeting at which addresses of welcome were delivered, athletic sports, a large dinner at the Elks, a parade and welcome by the Indian students, fireworks at the Indian School, and a reception in the schools Gymnasium, at which nearly a thousand were present. This days celebration was considered, by people who have lived in Carlisle for many years, as the finest welcome and most successful celebration ever held in the town. Carlisle raised nearly $1,100 to extend this greeting.

At the huge reception and greeting extended by the city of New York, as a part of which there was a procession of 25,000 in line, Thorpe was the most prominent figure and was heralded everywhere as the worlds greatest athlete. These triumphs were repeated in Philadelphia, where 10,000 people took part in the parade. THE RED MAN is proud of these two young men, and the Indian race is to be felicitated on their achievement. It should mean much in awakening among Indians a desire for greater physical and mental perfection, and for more care in guarding the health and increasing the strength of Indians everywhere.

The Red Man (a publication of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School), September, 1912.

Credit: Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society
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