Jim Thorpe statue dedicated May 21, 2011

The dedication of this statue on Saturday was one of the highlights of the 15th annual Jim Thorpe Birthday Celebration.

Jim Thorpe’s grandson, Michael Koehler, who backs the Carbon County town’s fight against his relatives to keep the legendary athlete interred there, was on hand Saturday for the 15th annual Jim Thorpe birthday celebration.

Koehler told those gathered at the site of his grandfather’s mausoleum for the unveiling of a new statue that he understands the other side of the family’s views. Koehler, however, believes that there is no better place for Jim Thorpe to rest in peace, noting that his aunt had performed a Native American burial ritual there.

“My grandfather has returned to Mother Earth. He lies on sanctified ground. My half of the family doesn’t see any reason whatsoever to change any of that – to disinter his remains and to take him to some obscure plot in Shawnee, Oklahoma,” he said.

Native American dancers perform each year as part of the annual tribute to the legendary Olympic athlete. You can view a short clip of their performance at the Josiah White Park near the Jim Thorpe train station on YouTube — http://www.youtube.com/user/TimesHouse