Diamond Alliances: Baseball at Minnesota’s Lower Sioux Indian Reservation, 1900-1915

By David J. Laliberte.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Conventional history tells us that relations between Americans of color and American whites at the opening of the twentieth century were adversarial, even cruel. Sports historians have long demonstrated that this racial antagonism extended onto American athletic turfs, where scores of black, Latino, Asian and American Indian athletes battled social derision to compete in sports. Yet underneath this racist pall, Dakota Indians from Minnesota’s Lower Sioux Indian Community and Euro-American residents of Morton, a small farming town adjacent the reservation, quietly played baseball together—even built their baseball communities together—for nearly twenty years. Indeed, interracial partnerships and fluid racial dynamics were hallmarks of turn-of-the-century baseball at Lower Sioux, trends diametrically opposed to the era’s bigoted national sporting scene. Yet in the midst of this inter-ethnic collaboration, Morton whites came to envision distinct advantages they might claim by manipulating Indian baseball to better serve their interests. Thus, besides exploring a remarkable instance of cross-cultural cooperation at one Minnesota Indian reservation, this essay also illuminates the inherent advantages whites held while pursuing interracial sport in the early twentieth century United States.

Keywords: History, Race, American Indians, Baseball, United States, Minnesota

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.31-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 396.262KB).

David J. Laliberte

Adjunct Instructor of History, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA

David Laliberte is an adjunct instructor of history at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA. Specializing in race and sports in the early twentieth century United States and in American Indian history in Minnesota, his essays have appeared in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, in Minnesota History, and in The History Teacher. His current research explores the cultural interplay between baseball and lacrosse at early 20th century White Earth Indian reservation in northwestern Minnesota.