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Judge: Jim Thorpe's body should be returned to Oklahoma

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 21 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2013 06:10:08 AM CDT

Jim Thorpe's namesake may be leaving town.

JIM THORPE, Pa. -

Jim Thorpe's namesake may be leaving town.

A federal judge says the body of the legendary athlete should be moved to an Indian burial ground in Oklahoma.

For 57 years the borough of Jim Thorpe has celebrated the world's greatest athlete, taken his name and made his final resting place their home.

But now a federal judge has ruled the gravesite monument is a violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The judge says Thorpe's body should be returned to his sons in Oklahoma.

"When you talk about Jim Thorpe the man, they are remains of a human being. They are not artifacts," said Anne Marie Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the yearly Jim Thorpe birthday celebration.

She says the town is devastated Thorpe's final resting place might be moved especially since it was his wife and family who brought him here to be memorialized nearly six decades ago.

Fitzpatrick says she is sure residents will do everything they can to keep Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe. But should his body be moved to Oklahoma, "We will still honor him," she said.

Tom and Healther Clune came to the memorial from Rhode Island.

They say they share the borough's disappointment..

Borough and County leaders say they are going to talk to legal counsel to see what if any action can be taken but they say in the end it will be up to the citizens of Jim Thorpe to decide if they will fight or let their namesake go.

"A sad blow to the people of this community who have been so passionate about the legacy of Jim Thorpe," said Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek.