MAY 24, 1883


Led by 15-year-old Luther Standing Bear, who would become a renowned Ogalala Lakota chief, author, and educator, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Band lined up at City Hall Park in Manhattan and became the first band to cross at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge.  The desire to have Native American participation in the event harkened back to Simon Pokagon’s role opening the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  As Standing Bear later, “So the Carlisle Indian School band of brass instruments was the first real American band to cross the Brooklyn Bridge,” adding “and I am proud to say that I was their leader.”  (Emphasis Standing Bear’s).  The band then went on to play several performances at churches in New York and Philadelphia before returning to Carlisle.  The Carlisle Indian Band, under the direction of Dennison Wheelock, performed at world fairs, expositions, and every presidential inauguration until the school closed.

Source:  Vigil, Kiara M., “Indiginous Intellectuals: Sovereignty, Citizenship, and the American Imagination, 1880-1930,” (Cambridge Univ. Press: 2015)  Indigenous Intellectuals - Kiara M. Vigil - Google Books
Photo:  Department of the Interior, 1915.  Public Domain. 

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