Twenty members of the legendary warrior’s family are suing senior federal government officials, Yale University and the society Skull and Bones in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They are seeking return of Geronimo’s remains as well as punitive damages. However, the parties are a bit curious since the society is not part of Yale University. They are also suing the government because the remains were held at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This is the 100 year anniversary of his death.
The complaint is largely based on a long-held rumor that the society store the skill and some members have broken the vow of secrecy to tell journalists that there is indeed a skull called Geronimo.
“I believe strongly from my heart that his spirit was never released,” Geronimo’s great-grandson Harlyn Geronimom, the leaders great-grandson, insists until he is returned to a proper resting place “I believe strongly from my heart that his spirit was never released. Presently, he’s 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.”
Society lore says that 1918 or 1919 members broke into the grave and took the skull. There are rumors of a variety of stolen items at the society. Of course, that would mean that Bush family member have been in knowing possession of not just stolen property but bones covered by federal criminal law on the return of such remains to Native American tribes (under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) and possible artifacts covered by federal criminal laws. Such members include Prescott Bush, father of former President George H. W. Bush ’48 and grandfather to former President George W. Bush ’68. Both presidents are reportedly members as are members. H.W. is shown just left of the clock in the picture to the right.
For many who have long despised the society, the very prospect of discovery is an irresistible temptation. The society, however, is likely to seek a protective order over the really good stuff. At the outset, however, the society may have to deny the allegations in its answer. It will be interesting to see if the lawyers try to avoid a direct denial in favor of attacking the complaint as based on mere speculation. The descendants clearly want the information in their Complaint: “To assure that all existing remains of Geronimo and funerary objects are recovered by Geronimo’s 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. And persons with knowledge must provide any facts known to them concerning the claims.”
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