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How the Carlisle Indians Became a College Football Powerhouse

Richard Henry Pratt, an abolitionist, created a college football powerhouse team called the Carlisle Indians that dominated in the early 20th century. Pratt believed that Native Americans should be included in American society.

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School began in 1879 with Henry Pratt wanting to assimilate Native Americans into society. Pratt was dedicated to starting the school so he did just that, by making a journey into the Dakota territory to enroll students into Carlisle. Three years later, the students decided that they wanted to start a football team for the school which was called the Carlisle Indians.

The Carlisle Indians were a dominant team by 1907. The collegiate team knew how to operate and facilitate the game at an efficient pace. In one of Carlisle’s games, the Indians defeated the U.S. Army team, which included Dwight Eisenhower in its roster. In Carlisle’s former years, the school produced amazing talent which included Jim Thorpe and Glenn Scobey also known as “Pop”.

The Indians had strict rules for their players. “Behave in a gentlemanly manner at all times.” Players were not allowed to hit, fight, or swear because the coaches wanted to keep their players humbled and disciplined while playing the top most powerful football teams in the nation. This attitude for the players would show how “reformed” Indians are. The Indians were able to thrive on and defeat dominant football teams like the University of Pennsylvania, West Point (Army), and Harvard.

The Carlisle Indians are a team that showcased dominance, confidence, and perseverance which secured their spot as one of the greatest football teams in history.

[Source: NPR; ExplorePAhistory.com]

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