Opinion: Tribal rivalry in boarding school football
"Last week I wrote about Indian boarding schools and mentioned that one aspect of Anglo culture that appealed to the boys was football. Problems often developed, however, that the coaches did not foresee.

For example, at the Phoenix Indian School the Anglo coach chose an athletic youngster, a Hopi, to be the quarterback. The linesmen who were to protect him all happened to be Navajo. The Phoenix team lost the first game they played because the Navajo linemen refused to protect their own quarterback.

Tribal rivalries passed down for many generations remained stronger than their newly-learned sport. It took some persuasion and explanations on the part of the coach to convince the boys that it was only a game and that they were all supposed to cooperate with each other.

The opposite result also could happen. In Indian Territory (future Oklahoma) Comanches and Kiowas found themselves on the same team sometimes. A mostly Comanche school had a Kiowa or two on their team and played a similar native school that was mostly Kiowa. The Kiowa teammate of a Comanche quarterback heard the opposing team calling plays in Kiowa and told his Comanche teammate what they planned to do! When the Kiowa student next made a trip home, the story of his translating to the quarterback had preceded him. Old tribal loyalties and pride still reigned supreme in his father’s mind. In his Kiowa tongue he asked his son the equivalent of “What in the blankety-blank were you doing?!!” He couldn’t understand how his son could tell a Comanche (even on his own team) what the Kiowas on the other side were planning to do. In the father’s mind his son was betraying his own tribe."

Get the Story:
J’Nell L. Pate: Cultural clashes intervened in Indian school football (The Azle News 11/11)