This year’s coin recognizes the accomplishments of Olympian and multi-talented Native American athlete Jim Thorpe.

The U.S. Mint in Denver released a new dollar coin on Thursday. David Bledsoe of the Denver-based American Indian College Fund joined Colorado Matters to talk about the coin and the man it features: Jim Thorpe, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, who's been called "the greatest American Olympian of all time."

He won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in 1912. Thorpe went also played college and pro football and helped form the NFL, becoming its first president in 1920. He also had pro basketball and baseball careers, and was even a ballroom dancing champ.

Since 2009, this $1 coin has displayed an annually-changing reverse design that recognizes the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the history and development of the United States.

This year’s coin recognizes the accomplishments of Olympian and multi-talented athlete Jim Thorpe. The reverse design depicts Thorpe, with the foreground elements highlighting his football and Olympic achievements. Inscriptions are “JIM THORPE,” “WA-THO-HUK” (his native name), “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and “$1.”

The obverse (heads side) design retains the central figure “Sacagawea” carrying her infant son, Jean Baptiste. The inscriptions are “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST.”

Thorpe has received various accolades for his athletic accomplishments. The Associated Press named him the "greatest athlete" from the first 50 years of the 20th century, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted him as part of its inaugural class in 1963. A Pennsylvania town was named in his honor and a monument site there is the site of his remains, which were the subject of legal action. Thorpe was portrayed in the 1951 film Jim Thorpe – All-American, and appeared in several films himself.

The United States Mint was created by Congress in 1792 and became part of the Department of the Treasury in 1873. It is the Nation’s sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage and is responsible for producing circulating coinage for the Nation to conduct its trade and commerce.


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