Jim Thorpe was a unique athlete on a global scale. At 1912 in Stockholm he became the only Olympian ever to win gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon - an extraordinary achievement that remains so even though the International Olympic Committee later rescinded the medals after learning that Thorpe had played a season of minor league baseball. (The IOC reinstated the medals in 1982 but still has not officially published his records.)

Thorpe recorded times in the hurdles and the mile that weren't matched for half a century, and later played professional baseball and football. At Carlisle Institute, he competed in football, baseball, track, lacrosse, hockey, handball, tennis, boxing and ballroom dancing. And you thought "Dancing with the Stars" was something new.

Unfortunately, the circumstances leading to Thorpe's final resting place - the Carbon County borough that bears his name - were as unique as his athletic gifts.

He died without a will in 1953. His widow, Patricia, having failed to get support for a monument from the National Football League and the state of Oklahoma, heard that the town of Mauch Chunk, in Carbon County, had started a fund to attract industry. She made a publicity-generating deal to bury her husband there if the borough would build a monument and rename itself Jim Thorpe. Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk agreed, merged, and constructed the monument, which was dedicated in 1957. The town, Jim Thorpe, has done a fine job in maintaining the monument along the Lehigh River.

Thorpe's sons long have maintained that he should be buried in Native American land and they sued the town of Jim Thorpe in 2010.

Last week, Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo of the Middle District of Pennsylvania agreed. He ruled that the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which Congress passed to preclude the exploitation of Native American remains for commercial purposes, superseded the contract law that governed the deal struck by the towns and Patricia Thorpe.

The town can appeal but it shouldn't. It should keep the name and the monument and, by acquiescing to the decision, truly honor one of America's greatest athletes by seeing to the repatriation of his remains to Native American ground.