For over the past one-hundred years, Native American Indian participation in popular sports has decreased at an astonishing rate. As the 19th Century ended and the 20th Century began, intercollegiate and professional sports were dominated by Native American Indians. Early Native American Indian participation and achievement in athletics, most notably football, was indirectly facilitated through the vision of Lt. Richard Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School. Carlisle and the subsequent boarding schools brought students from tribes across the country together in an attempt to strip them of their traditional life ways and assimilate them into a society that was not their own. From the harshness of the boarding schools was to come a bright ray of light as these institutions developed some of the best teams and athletes from the early 20th century.
The most notable in a long line of successful Native American Indian athletes was Jim Thorpe, the man honored as the Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century. Thorpe starred in football, track, basketball and baseball while at the Carlisle Indian Boarding School in Pennsylvania. Carlisle would dominate college football well into the second decade of the early 20th Century. Thorpe would lead Carlisle to a “National Championship” in 1912 shortly after winning two Olympic gold medals in Stockholm, Sweden. Thorpe went on to help establish the National Football League and play major league baseball. This dominance at the turn of the century lasted into the 1920’s as Thorpe and former Carlisle stars such as Joe Guyon and Pete Calac helped carry and shape the early National Football League. At the same time, the Haskell Institute, in Lawrence, Kansas established itself as a dominant gridiron power becoming the “new Carlisle” of the west as they beat some of the best football teams in the country. Since that time, the dominance of Native Americans in the world of sport has come to an end. Or has it?
Bright Circle is blessed with the presence of outstanding individuals who help tell the Bright Circle story, including Jim Thorpe's daughter, Grace, along with her daughter Dagmar. They join scholars Daniel Wildcat, John Bloom and Barbara Landis to bring to life the past achievements of those renowned athletes who competed as the 20th century took hold and sports began to enter the mainstream of popular culture.
Bright Circle is also blessed with contemporary Native Athletes who have carried on the proud tradition established in the not-so-distant past by legends, such as Jim Thorpe and Joe Guyon. Brett Favre, Dan Hampton, Kywin Supernaw, Jenni Lingor, Amber DeLuca and Chad Germann share their achievements, as well as their struggles, with a new generation of Native Athletes who are waiting to continue this tradition well into the distant future.
Bright Circle is scored by renowned composer Brent Michael Davids and narrated by the talented actor/spoken word poet Cochise Anderson.
This is a film that is both educational and inspirational. Not only does it aim to educate viewers on the rich history and tradition of Native American Indians in sport, but this film also brings the viewer back into the present day where now, as the 20th Century has come to a close and as a new millennium begins to unfold, the ancestors of those proud athletes from the not-so-distant past carry on the proud tradition of sport.
Welcome 2 the Dawn...of a New Era...Bright Circle