Only special circumstances prevented Louis Tewanema from being on hand last month when SPORTS ILLUSTRATED gathered some 30 members of past and present U.S. Olympic teams in New York for a press conference and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. A Hopi Indian who won a silver medal in the 10,000 meters in 1912, Tewanema two years ago was among 22 men chosen by sportswriters for the alltime U.S. Olympic track and field squad.
Tewanema received his SPORTS ILLUSTRATED invitation to come to New York at his native Hopi village of Shimopavy in northeast Arizona, to which he returned after the 1912 Olympics. Now 74, he directed a nephew to write a reply through a friend, Bill Close, news and sports director of radio station KOY in Phoenix.
"Tewanema," his nephew wrote, "very much like to be in Melbourne, New York, but it better close to time when they held annual snake dance here and he's the priest of that society and if it wasn't for this reason, he would go and so he want me to write you and aske if you could write them and tell them just goes on out here because you can explain more we can to them. He would appreciate very much for this trouble."
And Bill Close then explained to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that the snake and antelope fraternities of the Hopi tribe (who are called "the people of peace") hold their most important ceremony in August—a two-week ritual of prayers and dances for rain and successful crops. "Louis Tewanema is an antelope," Close wrote, "high in the priesthood, and also is known as one of the wise men of the council. His responsibility is great and he feels it to such an extent that he must pass up this trip, although there is none he would rather make. In Arizona we are very proud of Louis Tewanema."
September 9, 1956
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED would have been proud also to be host to Louis Tewanema in New York—but hopes that the rains have been especially good in Shimopavy this year and the harvest bountiful.