U.S. Supreme Court Denied a Hearing on Appeal to Move Body of Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe's family wanted to bring the "World's Greatest Athlete" Home

Jim Thorpe’s family wanted to bring the “World’s Greatest Athlete” Home

Published October 6, 2015

WASHINGTON—A five-year attempt by the sons of legendary Olympic Gold Medal Jim Thorpe to have their father’s remains returned to tribal lands in Oklahoma ended yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court denied their motion for a hearing.

In June William and Richard Thorpe, with the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, submitted a motion to the high court to hear their appeal have Thorpe’s body moved to Oklahoma from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

The brothers, along with their brother, Jack Thorpe, now deceased, brought a suit in 2010 to gain control of where their father should be buried. They maintained their father’s body was taken to Pennsylvania against their wishes when Jim Thorpe died in 1953 by Thorpe’s third wife, Patricia, a non-Native woman, who auctioned Thorpe’s body to the highest bidder.  A small borough in Pennsylvania now named for Thorpe won the bid.

The small borough in Pennsylvania was a struggling coal town in 1953 and bid on the body as a means to draw tourists to their town.

Thorpe never visited Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, now named in his honor.

In 2013 the sons and Tribe won the 2010 lawsuit, but lost in a U.S. Court of Appeals last year.

The motion filed in June sought to have the Supreme Court hear an appeal based on a  violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) that protects the remains of American Indians.  The Court denied the motion.


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