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Anthropology Days

The organizers of 1904 Olympic Games included two "Anthropology Days", to be held on August 12 and 13. The Anthropology Days were a "scientific experiment" where a variety of men from indigenous populations, including Pygmies, Filipinos, Patagonians and various American Indian tribes, competed in various events so that anthropologists could see how they compared to the white man. The indigenous men were already in St Lois at the World's Fair as part of the exhibits.

olympic pole climbing demonstration The winner of the Pole Climbing in 1904
from: Spalding's official athletic almanac 1905

The natives, or savages as they were called, competed in such undignified events as mud fighting and greased-pole climbing. They also competed in running races, javelin, archery and weight tossing. As expected, without specific training in these events, and the random nature of their selection, it is not surprising that they performed poorly in these events.

The Olympics founder, Baron de Coubertin, prophetically noted that such a charade "will of course lose its appeal when black men, red men, and yellow men learn to run, jump, and throw, and leave the white men behind them."

These events were never seen at the Olympics again.

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