On the face of it, this seems quite simple: the aggrieved son of Jim Thorpe would like his father’s remains repatriated to Oklahoma from a little town in Pennsylvania that he likely never visited. This part of the story is the only part that news articles (and even stories from outlets like NPR) have covered.
The media has never reported that it turns out there is another half of Jim Thorpe’s family that inconveniently doesn’t want him moved. It is as if they are waving and shouting from behind soundproof glass while the press looks the other way.
Here is a note to me from John Thorpe, a grandson currently residing in Lake Tahoe, California:
..you (the town of Jim Thorpe, PA) are doing the right thing!… My friend’s name is Spirit Wolf of the Standing Buffalo Nation, Lakota Sioux. He holds the same position now as Crazy Horse did in his time with the tribe. He believes my Grandfather is at rest…
A more detailed look at how another family member feels is contained in this letter written to Carbon County Magazine by Mike Koehler, a grandson who was appointed by Grace Thorpe, Jim Thorpe’s daughter, to be the spokesman for the family after she passed away last year.
He explains his relationship to Jim Thorpe and the side of the family he comes from. He goes on to say that the legal arguments themselves don’t conform to the wishes of at least half the family and appear to stand on shaky legal ground at best.
John Thorpe explained to me that he would be attending The Sundance Native American Gathering in Texas towards the end of July and that various tribal elders would be weighing in on the matter with the goal of reaching a conclusion. In effect, he says, the issue has long since transcended the status of family matter to one that affects all Native Americans.
I’ve made these seemingly relevant aspects of the story very much available to the press that has contacted me, but somehow it doesn’t seem to find its way into the general reporting. In fact, one major newspaper lamely indicated to me that it was left out because of “space limitations.”
OK, sure. But it sounds like, editorially speaking, it just isn’t as heart-rending a story when you tell all of it. None of that smirky irony.
I do understand that article real estate in major papers is expensive, but it’s hard to square that with the press’ supposed responsibility to at least give us an arm wave attempt to tell the whole story. What I’m describing here isn’t just a wrinkle or a nuance, I think it’s fair to call it a glaring omission.
At least that’s what half of the Jim Thorpe family would say, if that matters to anyone.