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She searched around until she found a card, and read it carefully in her precise voice. Charles Albert Bender, known as Chief Bender, was born May 5, 1883 at Brainerd, Minn., stood 6 feet 2 and weighed 185. He was not yet 20 when he made his major league bow in 1903, and led the American League in games won in 1910, 1911 and 1914. Bender won 10 consecutive games in 1907 and 14 in 1914. His major-league totals were 206 victories against 130 defeats.
Looking at Bender's picture, and referring to the Indian athletes at Carlisle, she said thoughtfully, "There was something Grecian about them."
Miss Moore taught at Carlisle from 1911 until 1915, and these were the years, as every football fan knows, when the Indians, under Coach Glenn Warner, achieved the most remarkable record, all things considered, in the history of the sport. In one three-year period, for instance, the Indians won 33 and lost three. The teams that included Thorpe, Joe Guyon, Gus Welch, Alex Arcasa and a few other brilliant boys from Sioux, Cheyenne, Seneca, Nez Perce, Cherokee and other tribes beat Yale, Army, Navy, Penn, Brown, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Dartmouth, Cornell and Harvard—virtually every major college football team of national prominence. The Carlisle track team was almost as successful, and as for the baseball team, it won such a reputation that it had to be disbanded in 1909 because of what the Indian School superintendent called "the evils of summer professionalism." Miss Moore, in short, was at Carlisle during its golden age, and her work was one in which the intellectual world, represented by her then-nascent poetry, intersected with the world of popular culture that is represented by the common man's interest in sport.
Marianne Moore was born in Kirk-wood, a suburb of St. Louis, in 1887. Her father became an invalid in her earliest years, and she was raised in the home of her grandfather, The Reverend John Warner, the minister of the First Kirkwood Presbyterian Church for 27 years. When she was 9 years old, her mother took the children to visit relatives at Welch Run, near Carlisle, and while they were there an opportunity came to teach English at Metzger Institute, a fashionable girl's school in Carlisle itself. Mrs. Moore accepted it, Marianne went to school at Metzger, in a big, gloomy-looking building, now one of the dormitories of Dickinson College, that she remembered principally for its clanking radiators. She grew up as an average small-town girl, with an enthusiasm for tennis, a hearty love of the outdoors, and a deep interest in the athletic record of the Carlisle Indians, an interest that she shared with all Carlisle, including its social aristocracy, to which she belonged.
At that time—around the turn of the century—the Indian School had just begun to emerge from its local fame to its national prominence. Officially known as the United States Indian Industrial School, it was founded in 1879 (only three years after the Indians wiped out Custer and his whole command at Little Big Horn) and for nearly two decades struggled to survive. The school grew out of the work of Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt in rehabilitating Indian prisoners placed in his charge during the Indian campaigns of 1874-76. They were Plains Indians, sent for confinement in the old Spanish fortress in St. Augustine, Fla., and they arrived there half-naked, wild, dirty, vermin-ridden, crazed and in chains. Pratt began by teaching them English, and soon had them self-supporting, making money selling bows and arrows to Florida tourists. Many of them became so trusted they were permitted to become fishing and hunting guides in the Everglades. Pratt wangled permission to have several of the most intelligent educated in Negro schools. These then became his ambassadors to the tribes in the West, persuading the chiefs to send their children to Pratt to be educated.
With the phenomenal success of his first efforts, Pratt urged upon his superiors the need for better and more permanent facilities. General William Tecumseh Sherman induced the War Department to permit the Carlisle barracks, which were abandoned and badly deteriorated, to be used as a school. Because Congress had not yet approved the school, it was started with Sherman's authorization as an Army measure, but the students had to be shipped to Pratt's personal care. Chief Spotted Tail, for example, sent five of his children to Pratt. That remarkable officer (he became Brigadier General Pratt) was, as Miss Moore remembers him, a most impressive individual—"Both General Pratt and his wife were very substantial and imposing," is what she said. "They were romantic figures, always dashing up with their horse and carriage, and they were intelligent and cultural. But General Pratt was so monumental no one could dare approach him to tell him one approved of the work he was doing."
Pratt had led cavalry in the Indian wars, had a gallant Civil War record and was hot-tempered, tactless and, on the basis of his experiences in trying to further his work with the Indians, firmly convinced that the Indian Bureau was staffed by creatures scarcely human. He had good reasons for this view—the bureau provided scarcely any funds but plenty of criticism. There was barely enough money for day-to-day survival, and none at all for refinements at the Indian School. There were no gymnasium and no playing field except a sloping tract of stony ground beside Le-Tort Springs Run, a stream that flowed beside the school.
In 1892 Anna Luckenbaugh, one of the teachers, persuaded her friend Vance McCormick to teach the Indians to play football. McCormick, who lived near Carlisle, was the quarterback of the Yale eleven. He made up a Carlisle team that included Lone Wolf, center; Metoxan, fullback; Bemus Pierce (later a famous pro football star), guard; and Frank Hudson at quarterback, the man who subsequently as a superlative drop-kicker became the first nationally famous Carlisle star.
McCormick drilled his Indians in the rocky pasture, and found them phenomenally promising. But, contrary to the legend, the Carlisle teams did not begin to win at their first sight of a pigskin. All told, in their first 10 years of the white man's strangest and most complicated sport, the Carlisle Indians won only 40 games.
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