SCRANTON, Pa. – Jim Thorpe’s son asked a federal judge to order the Borough of Jim Thorpe to deliver the remains of his father, so he can be buried in his homeland, the Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma. Thorpe says the town is keeping the bones in a museum as a tourist attraction.
John Thorpe says the town did not ask the Thorpe family’s permission for his father’s remains, in violation of the Native American Graves Protection Repatriation Act. He claims the town also violated the Act by failing to publish its “inventory” of bones with the National Park Service since at least 1993.
“Defendants knowingly, intentionally and willfully deprived plaintiff of rights, accorded under NAGPRA, to notification, consultation, and repatriation,” the complaint states. “Due to the defendants’ repeated refusal to comply with NAGPRA, the defendants have caused the plaintiffs to suffer the costs of this action, including reasonable attorney fees and expert witness fees.”
Thorpe seeks a judgment declaring his right of possession of the remains of Jim Thorpe, an injunction and punitive damages. He is represented by R. Travis Willingham of Kansas City, Mo.
Jim Thorpe, 1888-1953, won gold medals in the 1912 Olympics in the pentathlon and decathlon and also excelled at collegiate and pro football, and semi-pro baseball and basketball. He is considered one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.