The Jim Thorpe / Black Hawk / Olympic Connection.

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This is an admittedly odd post. That’s par for the course these days. Anyway there is a connection between the gaming town of Black Hawk (Colorado,) and Olympic athelete and professional Baseball / Football player Jim Thorpe (1887-1953.)

The gaming town of Black Hawk, Colorado was named after the great Sauk / Fox warrior and chief, Black Hawk.

Chief Black Hawk……….BLACK HAWK – photo is from Wikipedia.

“Black Hawk or Black Sparrow Hawk (Sauk Makataimeshekiakiak (Mahkate:wi-meši-ke:hke:hkwa), “be a large black hawk”) (1767 – October 3, 1838) was a leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe.” [excerpt is from wikipedia] Born in Rock Island, Illinois in 1767. Chief Black Hawk died in Davis County, Iowa in 1838. “The Black Hawk War was fought in 1832 in the Midwestern United States. The war was named for Black Hawk, a war chief of the Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo Native Americans, whose British Band fought against the United States Army and militia from Illinois and the Michigan Territory (present-day Wisconsin) for possession of lands in the area.” “During the War of 1812 he fought on the side of the British.” [excerpts are from wikipedia]

Jim Thorpe at the 1912 Summer Olympics……….JIM THORPE – photo is from Wikipedia.
Jim Thorpe’s career years were 1912–1929. Besides the 1912 Olympic Games, Thorpe played baseball for the New York Giants (around 1914) and the Cincinnati Reds (starting in 1917.) “He played for the Canton (Ohio) Bulldogs from 1915 until 1920 and the Cleveland Indiana (Indians) in 1921” according to the Official CMG Website of Jim Thorpe. “Thorpe played with six different teams during his career in pro football, ending with a stint with the Chicago Cardinals in 1929.”

The Jim Thorpe CMG Worldwide website states that: “He was born to Hiram Thorpe, a farmer, and Mary James, a Pottawatomie Indian and descendant of the last great Sauk and Fox chief Black Hawk, a noted warrior and athlete.”
Jim Thorpe was indeed of Sauk Indian heritage. While often reported to be a direct descendant of the great Sauk / Fox chief, Black Hawk, the History Channel says: “Ms. Sue Hartwick, director of the Hoard Museum and Dairy Shrine in Fort Atkinson Wisconsin recently attempted to clear up the matter of Jim Thorpe’s ancestry by contacting the Thorpe family. Ms. Hartwick reported that contacts with Jim Thorpe’s now elderly granddaughter and other direct family decendants all revealed the same stunning conclusion:” read more from the History Channel…
“Thorpe was of mixed Native American and white ancestry. He was raised as a Sac and Fox, and named Wa-Tho-Huk, roughly translated as “Bright Path”. He struggled with racism throughout much of his life and his accomplishments were publicized with headlines describing him as a “Redskin” and “Indian athlete.” He also played on several All-American Indian teams throughout his career and barnstormed as a professional basketball player with a team composed entirely of Native Americans.”

Who do you trust?

“James Francis Thorpe (Wa Tha Huck, Bright Path) was born on May 22, 1887, in Keokuk Falls, south of what is now Prague, Oklahoma, on the Sauk and Fox Indian Reservation. He and his twin brother, Charlie, were baptized on November 17, 1887, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in what is now Konawa, Oklahoma, their mother’s home.”

“Jim was one of eleven children born to Hiram P. Thorpe, a man of mixed Sauk and Fox and Irish ancestry; and Charlotte Vieux, of mixed Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Menominee, and French ancestry, the great-granddaughter of Jacques Vieux, a French fur trader. Jim’s father was a horse breeder and trainer and occasional bootlegger. Life was a struggle for the family, and only five of the eleven children grew to adulthood. Jim used to run down the horses on their ranch on the banks of the North Canadian River, an activity that developed his strength and stamina, and helped him hone the athletic skills that would later make him famous.”

“Unfortunately, after this the search quickly becomes muddy. Various writers have claimed that Jim Thorpe was Black Hawk’s grandson; others state he was his great-grandson. Some indicate Sauk decendancy through his father, other claim his mother was decendant from Black Hawk. Attempts to trace Thorpe’s lineage through Whirling Thunder tend to peter out simply due to a lack of credible information. In short, such a distinguished lineage, laced with a blend of irony touched with a sense of ultimate triumph for Black Hawk generations later, should be fairly straighforward to trace….” read more from the History Channel…

Both Jim Thorpe and Black Hawk have roots in the Sauk Nation!

Official CMG Website of Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe in Wikipedia…
Black Hawk in Wikipedia
Black Hawk biography webpage