Monument to the 1904 World Champions.

Monument to World's Greatest Girls Basketball Team of 1904

Field review by the editors.

Fort Shaw, Montana

In 1904 the sport of basketball was barely a dozen years old. But the girls' team at the Fort Shaw Industrial Indian Boarding School was very good at it, and the principal decided that they would make a good attraction at the World's Fair in St. Louis. They would show how Boarding Schools helped Indians adopt the ways of White People.

The girls not only played basketball at the Fair, they also gave weekly literary programs, musical recitals, and interpretive dances (not Indian dances). But it was basketball that made them famous. Their ability, coupled with a notable lack of worthy competition, left them undefeated. When they won a best-of-three game series against a team called the Missouri All-Stars, they were given a big silver cup that proclaimed them Champions of the World's Fair.

The monument in Fort Shaw was erected a hundred years later, after a PBS documentary triggered renewed interest. A big arch proudly announces that the team was 1904 World Champions, which, technically, they were.

Fort Shaw Indian School World Champions.

The whole Industrial Indian Boarding School thing, however, didn't last. Fort Shaw's shut down six years later due to a lack of enthusiastic Indians.

Monument to World's Greatest Girls Basketball Team of 1904

Address:
Old Fort Shaw Rd, Fort Shaw, MT
Directions:
Fort Shaw, about 20 miles west of Great Falls via Montana Hwy 200. A half-mile northwest of town, next to the elementary school.
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October 15, 2018

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