“We’re going to be talking about Chief Don Eagle, who was a Native American wrestler in the 1940s and 1950s — really kind of this early heyday, shall we say, or formative years of wrestling in the United States,” Vermont Historical Society executive director Steve Perkins said. “And he has a really strong tie to this area, and (Spectacle Pond) in particular. We’re going to talk to James O’Gorman of the Island Pond Historical Society, and he’s going to give us a bit of a background.”

“Well, he’s from Canada, part of the Kahnawake Indian tribe,” O’Gorman said. “His father was a wrestler and boxer and trained him as well. Chief Don Eagle started out in boxing — I think he had 20 professional fights — and then moved on to wrestling in the late ’40s and early ’50s. (He was) very popular at that time (and worked) with a lot of the wrestlers of that time — Gorgeous George and Killer Kowalski — doing a lot of matches in Chicago. I believe they were filmed by television from Chicago.”

“There’s a chance that even Muhammad Ali — who as a young man in Louisville, Kentucky was a very big wrestling fan and borrowed his public personality for his boxing career from Gorgeous George — he may have seen Chief Don Eagle a time or two,” Mike Hoey said.

“That is true,” O’Gorman agreed. “His family purchased property here and established a little homestead. Don Eagle retired in the early ’60s, but in the late ’50s, the family turned all this property over to the state of Vermont for a state park.”

“Chief Don Eagle — which was his stage name — was of Mohawk descent, but in a lot of his imagery he’s wearing Plains Indians gear,” Perkins said. “I think, as we look back on that time, Native Americans trying to grab their identity were using whatever imagery they could. In a lot of the images we have of him, he’s wearing the long Plains Indian headdress and loincloth, but in some of them he does have the traditional Mohawk hairdo. I wonder — I don’t know if this is a rhetorical question — how many young Native American kids he may have inspired through his wrestling career.”

“That I don’t know, but obviously it still continues today since the ’80s and ’90s and the popularity of that,” O’Gorman replied.

“And he did mentor a young wrestler, Billy Two Rivers, who talks fondly of his time with Chief Don Eagle,” Perkins noted. “So, if people want to learn more about Chief Don Eagle or even visit the site of the family homestead, how can they do that?”

“Brighton State Park has their own little museum on Chief Don Eagle,” O’Gorman said. “And we do have a display (at the Island Pond Historical Society) thanks to the Bradley Reynolds family, who were close friends of the family growing up with them, with photographs and scrapbooks and materials on his wrestling career.”