Marathoner Louis Tewanima and the Continuity of Hopi Running, 1908-1912

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In January 1907, Louis Tewanima, from the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona, enrolled at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. While at Carlisle, Tewanima joined the school's cross-country team. He won numerous races and earned the opportunity to compete in the 1908 and 1912 Summer Olympic Games. Tewanima's story represents his ability to redefine Hopi running in the twentieth century and shows how he maneuvered within American and European perceptions of Natives and sports. His participation in running events recalls a time when white Americans situated indigenous people on the fringes of U.S. society but embraced them when they brought honors to the country by representing the nation in athletic competitions at home and abroad. Furthermore, Tewanima's involvement in marathons and Olympic races demonstrates the ways Americans used his success to advance the ideals of U.S. nationalism, as he simultaneously continued the long tradition of running among his people.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-346
JournalWestern Historical Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • HOPI (North American people) -- History
  • NATIONALISM -- United States
  • OLYMPIC athletes
  • MARATHON running -- History
  • MARATHONS (Sports)
  • NATIVE Americans
  • UNITED States -- Social conditions -- 1865-1918
  • CARLISLE (Pa.)
  • UNITED States
  • UNITED States Indian School (Carlisle, Pa.)
  • TEWANIMA, Louis, 1888-1969


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