Thursday, October 28, 1926
On Thursday evening a performance of the play “Hiawatha,” based upon the 1855 epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sold out every seat in the new stadium. An estimated 2,000 would-be attendees were turned away at the gates.
Friday, October 29, 1926
Friday’s events consisted of special contests for the visitors sponsored by the local merchants and a parade through downtown Lawrence, events sponsored by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, and culminated in what was hailed as “the World’s Biggest Powwow and the first World Championship of Fancy Dance.”
Newspapers of the time stated that:
“The entire parade was colorful and well-planned. Led by the Haskell Band, the parade line of march was scheduled to start at South Park heading north on Massachusetts Street spanning all the way to Sixth Street and then doubling back on Massachusetts Street.”
“The Lawrence Chamber events were hugely successful from every possible angle. The celebration brought the most colorful collection of Indians ever seen in this part of the country and brought the most visitors, both Indian and white, that the city of Lawrence has ever known.”
As recently as 1921 and 1923, Charles Burke, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs had issued opened circulars condemning Indian dances or other “inappropriate” gatherings. At first, Haskell’s officials had in mind a simple homecoming festivity, they did not plan to hold a great inter-tribal powwow or to make exhibitions of “traditional” Indian life and customs the centerpiece of the 1926 Homecoming.
Federal Indian policy and Haskell’s official mission had reason to oppose to schedule a powwow and dancing because it directly conflicted with the Federal assimilationist agenda. Frank McDonald convinced school officials otherwise. Ironically, staging the biggest powwow to date provided Tribal peoples the unique opportunity to publicize powwow culture, strengthening cultural identity.
Saturday, October 30, 1926
“The dedication ceremonies started with a prayer from Rev. Henry Roe Cloud, Principal of the American Indian Institute in Wichita, Kansas. The traditional prayer gave praise and thanksgiving and asked the Creator for protection and guidance of the Indian people.”
“The splendid Bucknell team rushed out upon the field for a preliminary move just at the moment of prayer. Instantly, every Bucknell man bowed his head in reverence. This is one of the outstanding incidents of the celebration. Many noted, too, that as Rev. Roe Cloud prayed, the sun shown through a rift in the clouds, the only time during the entire day.”
--Indian Leader, Haskell Celebration Special Edition Issue, 1926
Bucknell players found their efforts fruitless against the Indian defense and Haskell won the game with a final score of 36 to 0. This event served as Haskell’s first homecoming, establishing a long-standing tradition which continues today.
As recently as 1921 and 1923 Charles Burke, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, had issued open circulars condemning Indian dances or other "inappropriate" gatherings. At first, Haskell's officials had in mind a simple homecoming festivity. They did not plan to hold a great inter-tribal powwow or to make exhibitions of "traditional" Indian life and customs the centerpiece of the 1926 Homecoming.
Dan Scott, a "full-blood Osage," stepped forward and convinced McDonald that Haskell, along with the football game and dedication, should stage "the biggest powwow of all time."
Federal Indian policy and Haskell's official mission had reason to oppose scheduling a powwow and dancing because it directly conflicted with the Federal assimilationist agenda. McDonald convinced school officials otherwise. Ironically, staging the biggest powwow to date provided tribal people the unique opportunity to publicize powwow culture and strengthen cultural identity.
By the end of the 1926 Haskell Stadium Dedication events a "powwow culture" was born.
The highlight of the 1926 Haskell Powwow was the event that was billed as "The World Championship of Fancy Dancing."
The winner of this contest was Augustus McDonald (Pictured at left) from the Ponca Nation.
Please join us on September 21 and 22, 2018 as we commemorate the events depicted in this exhibit at our celebration: Keeping Legends Alive!
For more information, please visit www.keepinglegendsalive.com
The Haskell Cultural Center and Museum is a partner in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.
Haskell Cultural Center and Museum
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