"Congress, however, recognized larger and different concerns in such circumstances, namely, the sanctity of the Native American culture's treatment of the remains of those of Native American ancestry," the judge said. "It did so against a history of exploitation of Native American artifacts and remains for commercial purposes."
Ward said Bill Thorpe, who lives in Oklahoma, and Richard, a resident of the Dallas area, have not decided whether to bury their father alongside their paternal grandfather in a cemetery in Shawnee, Okla., or at another spot in the area.
Ward said the brothers are not seeking to have the town change its name, and the judge said any concerns about the borough's identity were misplaced.
Thorpe was born in Oklahoma and became a professional football and baseball player, as well as a Hollywood actor. The town that bears his name — which he likely never visited — has become a popular tourist destination, replete with trendy shops, historic architecture and outdoor activities connected to the mountainous region.
Ward said any tourist benefit that Thorpe's remains may have once provided has long become nonexistent.