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Jim Thorpe's Family Wants His Body Back

Published On: Aug 24 2011 10:31:16 AM CDT
Updated On: Nov 09 2009 05:36:08 AM CST

The borough of Jim Thorpe is a big tourist attraction in the Poconos, because of its famous namesake. So this change of heart from Thorpe's heirs has created a sticky situation for everyone involved. WFMZ's Bo Koltnow has more in our top story. >> REPORTER: Nestled in the hills of Carbon County Jim Thorpe's claim to fame is its name. >> STEVEN: I assume Jim Thorpe was raised here. >> REPORTER: But the 20th century athletic star Jim Thorpe was born in Oklahoma. After his death in 1954 Thorpe's wife, short on money, brokered what was essentially a marketing deal with the borough. Civic leaders promised to build a monument and change the borough's name to keep his memory alive. >> DAN: Done in a town that at the time didn't have a lot going for it economically. >> REPORTER: For years the Thorpe family has been split on the deal. Daughter Grace was a borough proponent.. but now that she's died.. Thorpe's sons are planning to file a federal lawsuit to return their father to Oklahoma. >> CHARLES: That is not going to happen. I'm certain there is a contract signed that he would remain here forever. >> REPORTER: The family's attorney tells 69 News he will cite a law requiring the return of American Indian cultural items and human remains to their families. >> REPORTER: The family has said according to Native American legend Jim Thorpe can never be at peace until he receives a proper buriel at home. His soul.. according to his son.. is doomed to wander. >> VICTOR: A monument built for the guy should stay where he's at. >> JOHN: I don't think would do town any harm and I think family would be happy and so would Jim Thorpe being buried next to her father. >> REPORTER: But Anne Marie Fitzpatrick who leads Thorpe's yearly birthday celebration says the identity of the town and Thorpe are indelibly linked. >> ANNE: It doesn't matter where you are born. >> It's who honors you. >> REPORTER: One town.. one family one name and now one looming lawsuit.