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Attorney: Ruling On Jim Thorpe's Remains Important For All Native Americans

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Jim Thorpe was America's greatest athlete in the 20th Century. The Oklahoma native won two gold medals in the 1912 Olympics and he played professionally in three different sports. Jim Thorpe was America's greatest athlete in the 20th Century. The Oklahoma native won two gold medals in the 1912 Olympics and he played professionally in three different sports.
Linda Frick, of the Jim Thorpe Home and Museum, shows off some of Thorpe's medals. Linda Frick, of the Jim Thorpe Home and Museum, shows off some of Thorpe's medals.
His son, Bill Thorpe, told our Craig Day last year that his family has never recovered from what happened to his remains. His son, Bill Thorpe, told our Craig Day last year that his family has never recovered from what happened to his remains.
Yale, OKLAHOMA -

The remains of legendary athlete Jim Thorpe could be coming back to Oklahoma.

On Friday, a federal judge ruled in favor of his two surviving sons' insistence that Thorpe's body should be returned to his native state.

The attorney for Jim Thorpe's son said the process is long from being settled, but he said the judge's ruling is a major decision, not just for the Thorpe family but for all Native Americans.

4/19/2013 Related Story: Judge Sides With Sons About Legendary Athlete Jim Thorpe's Remains

Jim Thorpe was America's greatest athlete in the 20th Century. The Oklahoma native won two gold medals in the 1912 Olympics and he played professionally in three different sports.

From 1917-1923, Thorpe lived in a house on Boston Street in Yale, about an hour from Tulsa.

When Thorpe died in 1953, his family planned to bury him in Oklahoma, but in the middle of his traditional Sac and Fox funeral, his third wife, Patricia, had his body whisked away to what would be called Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

His son, Bill Thorpe, told our Craig Day last year that his family has never recovered from what happened to his remains.

"To have them come in and take his body like that, it was very, very upsetting--not just to the family, but to tribal members," Bill said.

It also tore at the heart of his adopted hometown.

"Well, you don't sell another person. I don't care if they're dead or not, you don't sell them," said Linda Frick, of the Jim Thorpe Home and Museum.

Last Friday, a federal judge made a ruling that could see Jim Thorpe returned to his native land. The judge ruled that Thorpe's burial site in Pennsylvania is essentially a museum, clearing the way for Thorpe to be repatriated to Sac and Fox land.

"It wasn't right what they did to Jim Thorpe, so they had to change it," Frick said.

She said Thorpe is still revered in Yale, and the school kids all learn about his history and athletic achievements. She hopes the judge's ruling means the end of a long battle to see him come home.

"I just want to see him rest in peace. It's been long enough coming," Frick said.

The attorney for Jim Thorpe's sons said they've looked at a number of possible locations for him to be buried. There's small cemetery near Shawnee, where Thorpe's father is buried, or even possibly at the Sac and Fox headquarters in Stroud.

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