Leadership, Accomplishment and Cultural Celebration

Jim Thorpe

The 20th Century American Indian: Sports

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The Postal Service’s Celebrate The Century® commemorative stamp and education program was introduced in 1998. Over a span of two years, stamps were issued to celebrate significant people, places, events, and trends of each decade of the 20th century. This stamp was issued in Washington, D.C., February 3, 1998.

Jim Thorpe (Wa-Tho-Huk)

Sak and Fox

"Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.”
-King Gustav V of Sweden

James Francis Thorpe was declared by the Associated Press in 1950, “the greatest athlete of the first half of the century.” Thorpe was born in 1888 and grew up in Oklahoma. At the Haskell Institute and Carlisle Indian School, he excelled in football and track, becoming a football superstar, professional baseball player, and one of the greatest track and field stars of all time. At the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, Thorpe became the first athlete to win both the pentathlon and the decathlon. Today, in the wake of his leadership, the North American Indigenous Games (“the Indian Olympics”) bi-annually convenes outstanding Native athletes from states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada.

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20-cent commemorative stamp honoring American athlete Jim Thorpe was issued May 24, 1984, in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held at Shawnee Junior High School.
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Jim Thorpe Wheaties Box. Copyright 2001, General Mills