Students of the Sherman Institute, a Native American boarding school in Riverside, CA, pose for a picture on this 1919 postcardCourtesy Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
During the later half of the 19th century, Indian children were
brought into public and boarding school systems to “civilize” or
acculturate them. These schools were sponsored by the federal or state
government, missionary groups, tribal, and other organizations. Most
were established in order to assimilate Indians into the dominant
society and erase all aspects of Indian traditional life, including
language, religion, appearance, and even games.
Athletic programs were viewed as an integral part of their
adaption into the dominant culture. For most Indian children, school
provided their first exposure to baseball, basketball, and football.