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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release September 3, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

History for Lunch: Native American Iowa football player in 1928

Sarah Eikleberry discusses Mayes McLain’s role in Iowa football history

(IOWA CITY) – The State Historical Society of Iowa’s popular History for Lunch lecture continues this month with a presentation about Mayes McLain, a Native American from Oklahoma who played football at the University of Iowa in 1928.

Sarah J. Eikleberry, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Health and Sport Studies at Iowa, will present “A ‘Chief” Year: The University of Iowa Sinks Both Cleats in ‘Big-Time’ Football” at noon, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, at SHSI’s Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue in Iowa City. The lecture is free and the public is encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call 319-335-3911 for more information.

In her presentation, Eikleberry presents the compelling true story of the University of Iowa’s 1928 football season, one of the most frequently referenced in celebratory chronicles. It was an era of unexpected announcements, extravagant building projects, and record attendance during the homecoming game against Minnesota’s Thundering Herd.

For one season, a transfer student from Haskell Institute, Mayes McLain, became the center of local media attention. The student newspaper, the “Daily Iowan,” identified and repeatedly reported McLain’s status as a “racial other” while sportswriters tagged a Pan-Indian identity for the team and student body. Eikleberry examines McLain’s experiences within the context of a dynamic athletic department transitioning into its own black and “golden age.”

Eikleberry is a trained physical educator from Naperville, Ill., whose research interests include history of physical education and athletics within the academy, sport and the environment, and performance and negotiation of identity within sport. She has lived in Iowa City since 2005 and has actively participated in UI Women’s Water Polo, taught Isshin Shorinji Ryu Okinawa Te karate, and is the current Vice President for Organizing of UE-Local 896 COGS.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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