'Runner's revenge': Keep Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe
The day before Al Zagofsky's article "Penn's Sons Twice Stole Pennsylvania" was printed, referred to the Jim Thorpe connection to the Walking Purchase when I sent in my membership dues to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Although I'm pretty sure Bright Path did not know about it, I am surprised that his sons ignore it.
They should be proud. Shame on them.
Shortly before his father died, he allegedly told Jim Thorpe "Show them what an Indian can do," and with his athletic feats and later leadership, Jim Thorpe certainly did so. The 1955 Mauch Chunk sequel is icing on the cake.
I did teach this story in my U.S. history course. I put a map on the blackboard to show what the Lenape had agreed to (a strip of land along the Delaware "as far as a man can walk in a day" north from Philadelphia). They probably expected the walkers would reach the Forks of the Delaware at the point where the Lehigh River joins it.
The Penn brothers hired professional runners who came up out of the Pocono Plateau north of Mauch Chunk, where we can see the historical marker today. It was a huge triangle of land that was stolen from the Lenape.
I sent a note along to the N.M.A.I. that it is a sort of "runners revenge" that the tomb of Jim Thorpe and the town that honors him sits at the bottom of the very same hill that the professional European runners reached. It would probably give Bright Path and his father great satisfaction that the 1912 Olympics "show what an Indian could do," and in Europe, and against European runners. I guess he showed them.
The Leni Lenape are not recognized in Pennsylvania to this day. I hope the people connect the dots. There are local people who are descended from the tribes; and even though Jim Thorpe was born in Oklahoma and died in California, it was Pennsylvania that boosted him to the 1912 Olympics and Pennsylvania where respect was first shown in his memory. Keep Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe.
Anita Stone VanDine
M. Ed. (retired)