Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

by Steve Sheinkin

Born in Oklahoma of Fox and Sauk heritage, Jim Thorpe was sent to a local Indian... read more

Born in Oklahoma of Fox and Sauk heritage, Jim Thorpe was sent to a local Indian boarding school as a young child but ran away so many times he was finally, at age 11, sent far away to the Haskell Institute. He hated the school but discovered football and learned about one of the nation’s greatest teams, the Carlisle Indians. By age 15, he was at the Carlisle Indian School, playing for the storied team under the direction of Coach Pop Warner. Sheinkin skillfully weaves Thorpe’s life story with that of Pop Warner and the evolution of football, a sport that was very greatly shaped by the Carlisle Indians. This amazingly gifted team, built by Pop Warner from Carlisle’s most athletic students, who came from various Native nations, invented plays and techniques that are standard today, from the forward pass and spiral pass to field goals kicked from a distance greater than 30 feet. Plenty of play-by-play action, pieced together from contemporaneous newspaper accounts, provide details about the skill, athleticism, and inventiveness that led to frequent Indian victories over the likes of Harvard, Yale, Penn, and Princeton. Sheinkin does not shy away from the pain, racism, and exploitation the Carlisle students faced on a regular basis, although an account of government policy that forced most Native children to attend the schools is lacking. (Age 10 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

show less