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Jim Thorpe posthumously awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

A painting of Jim Thorpe is displayed at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Abi Ruth Martin
Legislative Service Bureau
A painting of Jim Thorpe is displayed at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Add one more accolade to legendary Oklahoma athlete Jim Thorpe’s trophy case.

President Joe Biden gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously late last week.

Thorpe was the first Native American to win an Olympic Gold Medal. He won two in track and field at the 1912 Summer Games. The Sac and Fox citizen was skilled not only at competing in pentathlons and decathlons but also played professional baseball, football and basketball.

Because of his semi-pro baseball career before the Olympics, he wasn’t named as the sole Olympic Champion in his events until 2022 — 69 years after he died.

He was among eighteen other recipients awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Sarah Liese reports on Indigenous Affairs for KOSU.
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