Predominantly of American Indian (Sauk and Fox) descent, Thorpe attended Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas, and Carlisle (Pennsylvania) Indian Industrial School.
Thorpe was raised as a Sac and Fox, and his native name, Wa-Tho-Huk, is translated as “path lit by great flash of lightning” or, more simply, “Bright Path”.
Citizen Potawatomi descendant and Sac and Fox Nation tribal member Jim Thorpe — Wa-Tho-Huk (Bright Path) — holds a reputation as one of the most talented athletes in history.
JIM THORPE, Pa., July 21 (AP)—Back in 1954, this picturesque coal mining town was renamed in honor of Jim Thorpe, the Oklahoma Indian whom many regard as the greatest athlete of all time. Now, some residents want to restore the old name, Mauch Chunk.
Predominantly of American Indian (Sauk and Fox) descent, Thorpe attended Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas, and Carlisle (Pennsylvania) Indian Industrial School. While playing football for Carlisle under coach Pop Warner, he was chosen as halfback on Walter Camp’s All-America teams in 1911 and 1912.
That was the flash point for a turn in Thorpe’s life. Although he would continue to write his legacy as an athlete nonpareil, he was stripped of his gold medals in 1913 after it was discovered he had violated amateur rules by being paid to play minor league baseball in 1909 and 1910.
The resulting unrest led to the Black Hawk War (1832; see Black Hawk), after which the Sauk were forced to relinquish more territory. They moved to Iowa, then Kansas, and finally settled in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) at the end of the 19th century.
American Indian Museum Displays Jim Thorpe’s Gold Medals in Exhibit Honoring Native Olympians. The most prized artifacts are the gold medals signifying Thorpe’s triumphs in the decathlon and pentathlon.
Jim Thorpe has been heralded as the greatest athlete ever, certainly the most accomplished of the first half of the 20th century. Thorpe won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and the pentathlon in 1912. That’s a massive accomplishment considering improvements in conditioning and equipment of modern sportsmen.
To be clear to anyone reading, Jim Thorpe the athlete never lived in Jim Thorpe. He didn’t go to school there (though he did attend the Carlisle School for some time, which is even closer to our home). He wasn’t originally buried there.
The 10 greatest athletes of all-time | Sports News | wacotrib.com.
From 1922 to ’23, Thorpe coached and played for an all-Native American team called the Oorang Indians.