Under Hill’s leadership, NIGA became a nationally recognized voice in Washington, D.C., and successfully initiated the development of a national set of minimum regulatory standards and policies for tribal governmental gaming, according to the Oneida Nation. After he retired from Oneida politics, Hill worked on various economic development projects, including negotiating tribal investment in the first ever off-reservation hotel in Washington, D.C. The Residence Inn by Marriot is a 13-story, 233 room, 24,000-square-foot hotel. “He was a skilled negotiator, politician, leader and jokester. Most importantly, he was a loving brother to us all,” said the Oneida Nation. “The Oneida Nation circle of generational leadership will be greatly impacted by the passing of one of our most respected and prominent leaders.”
Some sad news to share. Rick Hill, a former chairman of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin, has passed away. "He walked on to be with his spiritual family," Bobbi Webster, the tribe's public relations director, said on social media. @OneidaNationWI #Obituaries #Elders pic.twitter.com/2WdWF0DKaO— indianz.com (@indianz) December 13, 2019
Hill’s latest endeavor involved telling the Jim Thorpe story in a way that honored his legacy. The film is co-produced by actress Angelina Jolie and award-winning producer Todd Black with funds from nine different tribes. It is named for Thorpe’s Sac and Fox name, Wa-Tho-Huk, which means “Bright Path.” Thorpe grew up on the Sac and Fox Nation reservation in Oklahoma and attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympic Summer Games held in Stockholm, Sweden, making him the first Native to win a gold medal. He was considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports and excelled in college and professional football, professional baseball and basketball. He played professional sports until age 41. After retiring from sports, Thorpe struggled to earn a living and suffered from alcoholism. He lived his last years in failing health and poverty, dying in 1953. The Associated Press named him the “greatest athlete” from the first 50 years of the 20th century.
The idea for the film came from co-producer Abraham Taylor, who said he learned about Jim Thorpe while doing research for a documentary about legendary college football coach Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner, who coached Thorpe at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. “As I dug into the story, the things I was learning about the history of this country – history I was never taught – I quickly realized I couldn’t tell Pop Warner’s story,” Taylor said. “The story here was Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian football team and the kids who went there and specifically the boarding schools.” On Thursday, Taylor and other members of the film’s crew traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation and to the Wounded Knee Memorial. He said seeing the graves there changed everything he knows about the history of Native people. “I went to Wounded Knee yesterday for the first time, and for the first time of my life I saw a mass grave, and that changes a person, seeing that and experiencing that,” he said. He said he learned through research into Thorpe’s life that the boarding schools were essentially a continuation of the Indian Wars. Nedra Darling, who recently retired as public affairs director for the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, said the film will focus heavily on Thorpe’s experience at Carlisle. She said footage that the production team shot at the Lakota Nation Invitational will demonstrate that the boarding school experiment didn’t destroy the spirits or cultural traditions of Native people. “Look at what happened here that they were able to do,” she said, citing competitions held last week in chess, mathematics and Native language. “The intellect that’s here is amazing.” Taylor said many people interviewed by the film’s crew last week expressed similar messages of resilience and hope. “The overwhelming theme in all the interviews we’ve been conducting is this idea that I’ve heard over and over again is that, ‘We’re still here,’” he said. “This story in particular changed my life, changed the way I saw the world, and I think it has the power to do that with a general audience, too.” Said Darling: “It’s a story that needs to be told and told the right way, and we’re going to do that.”View this post on Instagram
I don't have the words to fully express my gratitude, or how much this truly means to me. I will say more on another day. For now, I just want to share this announcement with you all and that I am thankful to all of you who have been so wonderful in supporting my journey. I love you guys and I appreciate the love that you've shown to me!!!!!!!! 🙏🏽 | Jim Thorpe | #ForTheCulture | Link in bio**
The Oneida Nation is greatly saddened by the passing of our former Chairman, Rick Hill. We are grateful for his many...Posted by Oneida Nation on Monday, December 16, 2019