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The Battle Over Jim Thorpe’s Remains – ICTMN.com

Jim Thorpe, the incredible athlete from the Sac and Fox Tribe in Oklahoma who was named one of the top three greatest athletes of the 20th century, had wanted to be buried in his home state of Oklahoma. He died in 1953 at the age of 64, and the story of how his body was taken away during his funeral in Shawnee, Oklahoma and ended up in Pennsylvania, still stirs strong emotions.

There is now a case in Federal Court to have his remains returned to Oklahoma, to a site selected by his two surviving sons. The basis for the suit is the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This Act requires federal agencies and institutions receiving federal funding to return American Indian cultural items, including human remains, to their respective peoples. In this case it’s asking that Jim Thorpe’s remains be repatriated to the Sac and Fox Tribe in Oklahoma. Jim had voiced his desire to be buried on his ancestral homeland and his sons desire to honor that wish.

The Birth of a Legend

Jim Thorpe was born in 1888 near Prague, Oklahoma. His dad was Sac and Fox and Irish, his mother was Potawatomi and Kickapoo. He began school at the Sac and Fox Indian Agency School near Tecumseh, Oklahoma, but at 10 was sent to Haskell Indian School in Kansas. In 1904, when he was 16, he transferred to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania to learn a trade.

In 1904, when Thorpe started at Carlisle he was a small, scrawny 16-year old, standing at just 5-foot-5 and weighing a measly 115 lbs – too small for football. Yet coaches slowly began to realize his potential as an athlete. In 1907, at age 19, he high jumped 5’9” — in street clothes. He was asked to join the track team and that fall he also joined the football team. He had grown into the powerful young man so many of us think of when we hear his name today.

FULL ARTICLE: The Battle Over Jim Thorpe’s Remains – ICTMN.com.

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