JUNE 14, 1871


Born in the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, Wheelock, in 1885, enrolled at Carlisle Indian School where he excelled in academics and became the school band’s cornetist extraordinaire. He attended Dickenson College in 1891 before becoming bandmaster of Carlisle’s internationally acclaimed band in 1892.  Often compared to John Philip Sousa, he composed the “Carlisle Indian School March” and was nominated to succeed Sousa as bandmaster of the United States Marine Band.  In 1900, he debuted his symphony, Aboriginal Suite, at Carnegie Hall, in New York City.  In 1911, becoming an attorney, Wheelock represented Indian nations before the United States Court of Claims and U.S. Supreme Court.  Wheelock also was founding member of the Society of American Indians, the first national Indian rights organization.  In 1980, to honor him and the Carlisle Indian Band, his bandstand was reconstructed on the site of the original at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  He died March 10, 1927.

Source:  Laurence M. Hauptman, "From Carlisle to Carnegie Hall: The Musical Career of Dennison Wheelock", in The Oneida Indians in the Age of Allotment, 1860-1920, (editors) Laurence M. Hauptman and Gordon L. McLester, Volume 253, The Civilization of the American Indian Series, (2006).  Retrieved 12/7/2020, The Oneida Indians in the Age of Allotment, 1860-1920 - Google Books.
Photo:  Author unknown, 1914.  The Quarterly Journal of the Society of American Indians, Volume 2, 1914.  Public Domain.  

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