descendants of the Apache Geronimo, a warrior chieftain whose remains
are rumored to be held inside Yales oldest secret society,
filed a lawsuit Tuesday demanding the return of their ancestors
members of the legendary warriors family are suing senior
federal government officials, the University and the society Skull
and Bones in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
to seek the return of Geronimos remains as well as punitive
believe strongly from my heart that his spirit was never released,
Geronimos great-grandson Harlyn Geronimo said in the press
conference on Tuesday. Presently, hes still imprisoned.
The only way to put this into closure is to relieve the remains
and his spirit so that he can be taken back to his homeland, on
the Gila Mountains, at the head of the Gila River.
hundred years ago Tuesday, Geronimo died of pneumonia at Fort Sill,
Okla., but the suit alleges that members of Skull and Bones exhumed
his remains in 1918 or 1919 and transported them to the societys
High Street tomb in New Haven. The group that is rumored to have
stolen Geronimos skull, bones and other items from his grave
site is said to have included Prescott Bush, father of former President
George H. W. Bush 48 and grandfather to former President George
W. Bush 68.
assure that all existing remains of Geronimo and funerary objects
are recovered by Geronimos lineal descendants, the Order of
Skull and Bones and Yale University must account for any such articles
that are or have been in their possession, or on their property,
the formal complaint states. And persons with knowledge must
provide any facts known to them concerning the claims.
by phone Tuesday evening, four individuals named in the societys
2007 tax filings as directors of Skull and Boness corporate
parent, the Russell Trust Association said they had no knowledge
of the lawsuit. Repeated knocks on the front door of the societys
tomb were not answered Tuesday evening.
spokeswoman Gila Reinstein said Tuesday afternoon she had no
knowledge of the complaint filed by Geronimos descendants,
adding that she could not comment on ongoing lawsuits. Even if Skull
and Bones does have Geronimos remains, she said, the society
is a separate entity from Yale and is not affiliated with the University.
Geronimos initial place of burial was a U.S. military base,
the suits 20 plaintiffs all lineal descendants of Geronimo
named President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates and Secretary of the Army Pete Geren as defendants in the
that Bonesmen stole Geronimos remains have never been authoritatively
confirmed or debunked. Experts remain split on whether the grave
robbery ever took place. In an interview, Towana Spivey, director
of the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum, said he
has never believed the story.
of the details of Bushs story were also inconsistent with
Geronimos tomb, Spivey said. For example, Bush described a
stone vault with an iron door, Spivey said, but Geronimos
grave would have been marked by a simple wooden headstone at the
time when the robbery allegedly took place.
Alexandra Robbins 98, author of the 2002 Bones exposé,
Secrets of the Tomb, is not so quick to discount the
idea that Geronimos skull may have spent most of the last
century at Yale.
all of the pilfered items rumored to be in the Bones tomb, Geronimos
skull is the most plausible, Robbins said in an e-mail to
the News. The societys documented description of the
grave-robbing is in standard Skull and Bones lingo, and Bonesmen
I spoke to told me that there is a skull in the building that they
they win the suit, plaintiffs hope to re-inter Geronimo in a site
close to his birthplace, in the Gila Wilderness of southwestern
descendants are legally entitled to ownership of his remains and
any funerary objects buried with him under the provisions of the
1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the