Google Doodle Features Onondaga First Nations Running Champion Tom Longboat

Vincent Schilling

Tom Longboat was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955 as “Canada's greatest long distance runner"

Vincent Schilling

Indian Country Today

Today's Google Doodle, the image that graces the landing page, features the First Nations Onondaga and Canadian long distance runner Tom Longboat.

Longboat was born on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada in 1887. His Native name was Cogwagee, meaning "everything."

He grew up on a small farm and his father died when he was five years old. Growing up on a farm helped his physical prowess, but even more so was his unique training regimen, which including running one day and resting the next. Such a technique was not standard practice.

Eventually he would compete in the Boston Marathon, becoming the first First Nation's man to win the race. He beat the previous year's winner by five minutes.

In World War I, Longboat served in the Canadian Army and due to his speed as a runner, delivered messages between military posts in France. Due to the danger of his missions, he was declared dead twice by mistake.

Tom Longboat, Abbie Wood and A. Meadows with American runner Bill Queal. The men participated in a sports exhibition at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, New York City on July 26, 1913. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2012)

Longboat was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955 as “Canada's greatest long distance runner.” The Hall of Fame also acknowledges Longboat’s “endurance and fortitude” in running amidst the racism and stereotyping he had to face during his career.

Since 1951, the Tom Longboat Award has been awarded annually by the Aboriginal Sport Circle to the top male and female aboriginal athletes from a Canadian province.

Longboat died in 1949 at the age of 61.

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter at@VinceSchilling