The Native American $1 coin has been honoring the achievements of the Native American community for the last 18 years. This year the U.S. mint is honoring Jim Thorpe or Wa-Thu-Huk (Bright Path) as he is otherwise called; the greatest athlete America has ever seen.
James Francis Thorpe - A background
Lauded as the greatest athlete ever in American history, Jim Thorpe was born on May 22nd 1887. He was a noted football, baseball and basketball player, and an Olympian par excellence. He was born of parents who had mixed ancestry; Hiram Thorpe, his father who had an Irish father and a Sac and Fox Indian mother; and Charlotte Vieux, his mother who had a French father and a Potawatomi mother. He was raised as a Sac and Fox Indian at one hand and as a Roman Catholic on the other because of his European ancestry.
Jim Thorpe started off at the age of 20 in his athletic career and competed in football, baseball, lacrosse and tried his hand in even ballroom dancing for which he won the 1912 intercollegiate ballroom dancing championship. When he was studying in Carlisle Indian Industrial school, the school won the 1912 National Collegiate Championship largely due to Thorpe's score of 25 touchdowns and 198 points.
In the Sweden Summer Olympics of 1912, Jim Thorpe participated in the Pentathlon and the Decathlon.The Pentathlon consisted of the long jump, javelin throw, 200-meter dash, discus throw and the 1500-meter run. He won four of the five events and came third in Javelin throw. Not surprisingly, he won the Gold medal in Pentathlon. In the decathlon which had 10 events, he won with more than 700 points as he placed in top 4 in all the events. He won 8 of the 15 events of the Pentathlon and the Decathlon, an amazing feet even today. In the closing ceremonies of the games, he received his prizes and two Challenge prizes which were donated by King Gustav V of Sweden for the decathlon and Czar Nicholas II of Russia for the pentathlon.
But unfortunately, his medals were stripped from him by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as he was identified as a baseball professional (considering the strict 'amateur' requirement for the Olympics). His medals were returned to him posthumously by the IOC.
2018 Native American $1 coin
The 2018 reverse design depicts a young Jim Thorpe, with the foreground elements showing his football and Olympic achievements. The inscriptions are “JIM THORPE,” “WA-THO-HUK” (Thorpe’s Sac and Fox tribe name), “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and “$1.” United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso created the design.