Full-Court Quest

Written by Linda Peavy Ursula Smith
Review by Suzanne J. Sprague

In the late 1800s, the United States government established boarding schools for Native American children with the intent of assimilating the children into European culture by isolating them from their tribes and teaching them new speech, dress, and domestic methods. At the same time, the YMCA developed basketball, a team sport suitable for retaining agility and team spirit during the cold winter months. The female students at the Fort Shaw Indian School in rural Montana excelled in this sport, becoming Montana’s first championship team. Furthermore, the team had the opportunity to demonstrate their basketball and entertainment talents at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Detailed research provides a rich account of how the girls were recruited to this isolated school. Presented factually, the narrative subtly exposes the government’s strategy to weaken the Indian tribes but focuses mostly on the women’s development into star players and young ladies. An epilogue provides analysis and conclusions, while endnotes and a bibliography present further avenues for study. Complete with photographs and maps, this book gives a voice to a group who were almost forgotten. Readers of fiction and nonfiction alike will find this book irresistible.