Support the Reburial of Jim Thorpe

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Earlier in the semester, we briefly talked about Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe was a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma. Some have called him the greatest athlete of the twentieth century. Few dispute the claim. Regardless of his accomplishments in life, the source of much of his fame has come from a decade's long struggle over his remains. The borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania and Thorpe's two surviving sons are the combatants.

When Jim Thorpe died, his entire family made arrangements to have him buried in his home. He would be returned to his native land, as he wished, and services would follow the traditional Sac and Fox Nation rites. His wife interrupted the ceremony and later, when his planned memorial was repealed, began dragging the remains around the country to find a place that would build him a proper memorial and pay her for it. She eventually came to Mauch Chunk in Pennsylvania. The town was renamed Jim Thorpe and a mausoleum was built.

I have personally visited this town several times; certainly not pay homage to Thorpe the man. At no point during my visit was I under the impression that the townspeople were touting their status as the burial place of Jim Thorpe. It seemed secondary and not at all fitting for the greatest Native American athlete ever. The town believes it must honor its contractual obligation to Thorpe's wife. It sees the current struggle as a mere family issue that Thorpe's sons will have to get over and not an issue of Native rights.

The fact is, Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1990. ( This act was meant to "undo" the unacceptable grave robbing of Native burial grounds that has occurred since 1867. Skeletons and remains of native peoples were displayed in museums. To me, the Jim Thorpe memorial in the town is just a museum. I believe it is astonishing that the remains have not been returned to his home yet, if not even out of respect.

Reference, previously shared by Mr. Dubose:

For more information about the Sac and Fox Nation, go to:

To show support for the reburial of Jim Thorpe, go to:

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