Devised in the late nineteenth century, the United States government’s “solution” to “the Indian Problem” was simple and heartless. Take the children from their homes, strip them of their cultural identity and pride, and make them “Americans.” Teaching them baseball — “America’s Game” — would complete the indoctrination. Or so they thought.
“Freedom Between The Lines” recreates the story of Native American youth sent to a federally run boarding school — the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. What awaits the children is a carefully plotted re-education program intended to “civilize” them by “driving the Indian out of them.” The psychological assault begins as soon as they arrive: hair is cut, uniforms issued, clothes and keepsakes destroyed. In baseball, however, the boys find a way to reclaim their proud warrior tradition, a way to compete fairly against an unjust society. The book focuses upon one of the boys, Charles Albert Bender. He was so good at “America’ Game,” Bender became the only Native American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The book includes a supplement with many photos that traces both the tragic history of the government’s attempts to solve “the Indian problem,” and the early history of baseball’s amazing appeal to all of America.