Jim Thorpe: The World’s Greatest Athlete

May 15th, 2013 | By | Category: 24-4: Language Revitalization, Media Reviews

JIM THORPE: THE WORLD'S GREATEST ATHLETEDirected by Tom Weidliinger
Moira Productions (2009)
86 minutes

Review by Michael W. Simpson

My recent review of a U.S. high school textbook currently used in our schools included Jim Thorpe, but it never mentioned that he was Sac and Fox from Oklahoma. Nor did the textbook ever mention the name of his school, which defeated many of the elite White colleges in sports. Such inclusion of Indianess within a White-dominated narrative would disturb the powers that approve textbooks. This film, unlike the Hollywood movie about Thorpe, tells the story of an Indian that America needs to understand. This documentary is enjoyable. One reason is the use of audio from those who went to school and knew Thorpe. The inclusion of family members provides insights into Thorpe, the human being.

The DVD includes the feature film, along with a 56- minute television version, the filmmakers’ commentary, and a 79-page study guide. This documentary should be of interest to students of American Indian studies, football and baseball history, late 19th- and early 20th-century America, and Hollywood. I highly recommend this film.

Michael W. Simpson is a father and grandfather dedicated to making the world a better place for his grandson. He is experienced in law, mediation, peacemaking, and teaching in many contexts including tribal colleges and reservation schools.

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