WASHINGTON — The National Congress of American Indians announced Friday it is proudly joining forces with Pictureworks Entertainment and tribal partners across Indian Country to “Take Back What Was Stolen,” an initiative to restore Jim Thorpe’s status as the sole gold medal champion of the 1912 Olympic decathlon and pentathlon.

Thorpe (Sac and Fox, Potawatomi) was awarded two Olympic gold medals at the Stockholm Summer Games. Within six months after his Olympic victory, the International Olympic Committee stripped him of his two gold medals and struck his name from the Olympic history books. Thorpe set incredible records in track and field, and his talent made him a legendary Native American icon.

The “Take Back What Was Stolen” initiative is taking root on the heels of the 108th anniversary of Thorpe’s historic victory at the Summer Games in Stockholm and in response to a resolution put forward by Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01), co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

“Anyone who represented our country in the Olympics is an American hero, especially those that delivered two gold medals to the United States. These heroic individuals should be recognized and honored, but inherent biases stole that from Jim Thorpe because he was Native American. The ‘Take Back What Was Stolen’ initiative is a call to action to right past wrongs so that records reflect Jim Thorpe’s incredible achievements and preserve his legacy,” Haaland said.

“Jim Thorpe Wathahuck-Brightpath, of the Thunder Clan of the Sac and Fox Tribe competed for this country at a time when American Indians and Alaska Natives were not recognized as U.S. citizens. To keep him removed from history is to continue the erasure of Native people,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “Native people deserve honor and heroes, and this is how we view Jim Thorpe. For these reasons, NCAI strongly urges the Olympic Committee to restore honor to Thorpe’s name and to his family by designating Jim Thorpe as the sole gold medal winner of both the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics.”

“Picture Works Entertainment and Bright Path Strong are thankful and energized by the support of NCAI and the Honorable Congresswoman Haaland. And thank you to the more than 23,000 people that have signed the petition so far. In today’s environment, it is unacceptable to let the wrong records stand for the World’s Greatest Native American Athlete,” said Nedra Darling, executive producer of “Bright Path,” and co-founder of Bright Path Strong. “Native people have had enough stolen from us, our languages, our lands, our culture and it is now the time to take back what was stolen from our Sac and Fox and Potawatomi hero and reinstate Jim Thorpe’s original and correct Olympic records!” 

For more information regarding this initiative and to sign the petition to support this effort, please visit www.brightpathstrong.com.

It's December 2020, can you help...

We’re asking our readers for a little help as 2020 draws to a close.  If you can afford it, we hope you’ll consider a one-time donation of $5 or more to help fund our Indigenous-led coverage of important news throughout Indian Country.  Covering the news hasn’t been easy this year, but we believe it’s been critically important given the changes and upheaval we’ve experienced — from COVID-19 and the 2020 Census, to issues of racial equity, efforts to suppress the Native vote, and far too many stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

Because we believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities, the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount, big or small, gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online Staff