NORMAN — The Pennsylvania town where famed athlete Jim Thorpe was laid to rest six decades ago asked a federal appeals court Monday to throw out a ruling that could clear the way for his remains to be moved to American Indian land in Oklahoma.
A federal district judge erred when he ruled the town of Jim Thorpe amounts to a museum under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the town’s lawyers wrote in an appeal seeking to block the removal of the athlete’s body.
Thorpe was a football, baseball and track star who won the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics. He died without a will in 1953 at age 64.
After Oklahoma’s governor balked at the cost of a planned monument to the athlete, third wife Patricia had Thorpe’s body removed in the midst of his funeral service and sent it to northeastern Pennsylvania, where she struck a deal with two merging towns — Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk — to build a memorial and name the new town after him. His remains are kept in a mausoleum surrounded by statues and interpretive signage.
Thorpe’s surviving sons have been fighting to move the body to Sac and Fox land in the state where he was born.