When Richard Henry Pratt founded the Carlisle Indian Boarding School in 1879, his goal was to civilize Indigenous bodies. In doing so, the school implemented a series of forceful measures including language training, Western-style dress, hair cutting, and, perhaps uniquely, sports. At the same time that Carlisle was collecting children from across the continent, the United States was expanding territorially: Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines, Hawai'i. As many scholars have noted, the United States was becoming an imperial force. Like Pratt's students, those who fell within the American imperial network were exposed to sports as a mechanism of control. While there is extensive work on both the relationship between sport and empire, as well as the use of sport within the Indian Boarding School system of the 1870s to the 1910s, there is a dearth of historiographical work that puts the two into conversation with each other. By exploring the domineering effect that sports had in the Indian Boarding School network and contextualizing it within the larger arc of sports in American Empire, this article expands the conceptual framework of sport and empire in order to paint a more complete picture of the consistency and significance with which imperial governments imposed athletics in various geographies.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 1-16
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.