Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Native Blood American heart.

Native American heritage has always been deeply rooted in the passing of stories from elders to younger kin and family, and those stories being passed down to their children and so on. Storytelling played A significant part in ones life, listening at a young age and then coming of age and sharing those same very stories with the youth in the tribe. Well, today being Thanksgiving I would like to give to the world a refresher course on a truly amazing American story about an athlete and icon. Jim Thorpe was arguably the greatest athlete of the 20th century, he was a Bo Jackson and then some, playing multiple sports and excelling at all of them. Thorpe's parents were both of mixed-race ancestry. His father, Hiram Thorpe, had an Irish father and a Sac and Fox Indian mother. His mother, Charlotte Vieux, had a French father and a Potawatomi mother, a descendant of Chief Louis Vieux. Thorpe was raised as a Sac and Fox, and his native name was Wa-Tho-Huk, translated as "path lighted by great flash of lightning" or, more simply, "Bright Path". As was the custom for Sac and Fox, Thorpe was named for something occurring around the time of his birth, in this case the light brightening the path to the cabin where he was born. I remember hearing about Jim Thorpe since i was young, my uncles would always talk about him, and say that their grand mom which was my great grandmom went to school with him at Carlisle school for indians in penna. Jim Thorpe wearing that famous Carlisle School "C" jersey to a collegiate championship. He went to the Stockholm olympics and won gold in multiple events, played pro baseball and football. Jim Thorpes medals were stripped from him after the olympic committee found that he had taken money for room and board playing semi pro baseball. Thorpe had indeed played professional baseball in the Eastern Carolina League for Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1909 and 1910, receiving meager pay; reportedly as little as $2 ($47 today) a game and as much as $35 ($822 today) a week. College players, in fact, regularly spent summers playing professionally, but most used aliases, unlike Thorpe. Jim's parents were both half Caucasian, but he was raised as an American Indian. His accomplishments occurred during a period of racial inequality in the United States. It has often been suggested that his medals were stripped because of his ethnicity, at the time Thorpe won his gold medals, not all Native Americans were recognized as US citizens.(which is totally crazy) The newspapers of the time would use his ethnicity as a ploy to stir up controversy amongst readership and the public, by using headlines that played it like Thorpe and the indians against the white man. Thorpe ended up broke after his sports careers ended and he suffered from very severe alcoholism for the rest of his life. After his death his Olympic medals were returned in his honor. Jim Thorpe is an american legend and his story is worth looking into further if you fancy these types of American stories. Also, off the beaten path but not really...if you are ever in Penna. do try to visit Jim Thorpe, Pa. it is a really beautiful part of the state especially during the fall, and even though there is a lot of controversy surrounding it being called Jim Thorpe, Pa. I personally think it's awesome and the lay of the land is an honor to any native american. You are dismissed and this class of edutainment is over, enjoy the holiday and make sure to take the time and be thankful for the good things that you do have in your life.

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